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.