Sunday, December 21, 2008

Amaziah: what a wretched epitaph

I think of epitaphs.

Not that I'm excessively morbid, mind you. I am, however, moribund. You are too, in the final analysis (Hebrews 9:27). We'd do well to keep the fact in mind (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4).

So I sometimes think about how I could be summed up after my death, what could be justly written on my tombstone.

My Bible reading today clanged me over the head with one summary I don't want written: "And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart" (2 Chronicles 25:2).

This is written of King Amaziah, and in his case it's a very charitable estimation. Amaziah did some things he knew pleased God. But Amaziah refused to do other righteous things that he knew would have pleased God, as well as committing wicked acts that he knew displeased God, and without repentance.

His son followed Amaziah's pattern (2 Chronicles 26:4): good beginning, pride, shameful end.

For my life in God's estimation, in the estimation of my family and friends, I don't want to leave that as my summary: Dan Phillips did what was right in the eyes of God — but not with all his heart.

This king's son would be ben-Amaziah; he'd bear Amaziah's name as his. My sons will bear the name Phillips. That is my gift to them. What will that name mean to them — being Phillips, being sons of Dan Phillips? What is the legacy my life will give that name?

I need to bear in mind that the legacy is being written now, it is being composed now. What I've done in the past is there, but if godly commitment is overwritten by a shameful end — which do you think will linger? The issue of finishing well looms larger as candles accumulate on the birthday cake. (Or as they get to be so many that your wife goes binary.)

The legacy I want to leave my sons and daughter is wholehearted commitment to God, His ways, His glory, His word.

Left to myself, I don't have the vaguest shadow of the echo of the hint of a hope of that being the case. Apart from God's enabling grace, a bad end is not a possibility. It's a certainty.

God grant grace and strength and faith and love, for His glory. God grant that it be so.


DJP said...

I don't know where to wedge this into the post, so I tack it up here.

Of course, I give my daughter my name and my heart, too. But she's about to wed a good man, and will do that feminine thing those femmes do: she'll take his last name. They'll start a new house, a new family, of which he will be the head.

Some women use family names after marriage as their middle names, as mine does. Many don't. Either way, if I end badly, I guess my daughter could have a dodge.

Until they find out the truth!!!


Gordon Cheng said...

Thanks for the post Dan, that is a great thing to pray. May God by his Spirit enable all his servants to follow him with a whole heart.

Rachael Starke said...

If your daughter has read the Anne of Green Gables series, then she'll have noted that some folks remember and note genealogies, unto the third or fourth generation...So sorry, no free pass. But we've got 3 girls, no boys, so we're not off the hook either!

I spent some time a while ago with an older person who I've known for many years, and was struck by how certain sinful characteristics now seem to have been atrophied. Apart from the grace of God, this person, though a believer, will end life with some pretty significant sin unresolved. I remember distinctly praying on the way home for God to help me "do" 70 well, and that if there were similar potential "calcifications" in my soul, to help me root them out now, so that when I'm old, all that people see is Jesus.

Well, boy, did God answer that prayer! It's been painful, but I keep thinking back to what I asked for, and am compelled to thank God for doing the hard work now. My girls may not carry my last name with them into marriage, but they will take all the years of lessons, good and bad, that my life has taught them.

God willing, no Amaziahs in our house either! Thanks for the Godward reminder (especially today when I had to stay home from church with a germ-riddled, cranky 2 y.o.

CR said...

DJP: His son followed Amaziah's pattern (2 Chronicles 26:4): good beginning, pride, shameful end.

Your post brings to my mind, Manasseh, Hezekiah's son. Hezekiah as we know was a very godly man. Here comes Manasseh, a very, very, very, (just repeat very 5 more times) wicked man.

I only bring this up to remind us, that whatever legacy we hope to leave (I'd like to think - I could be wrong, that Hezekiah was a good father), that without the kind of mercy that the Lord showed to Manaseh, without Him showing that mercy to us and our children and our children's children, the legacy we hope to leave is doomed to be a bad one.