Lombardi, Oscar, and Leaving Your Legacy

This past Sunday was a day filled with irony. It was a day of exuberant joy, bitter disappointment, and deep sorrow. It was a day filled with contrasts as profound as night and day…

So where do we start?

First of all, this past Sunday was the Big Game… Super Bowl XLVIII. All of the hype, all of the pre-game shows, and all of the pre-gameday shows that aired in the days leading up to a 6:30p.m. kickoff built a sense of anticipation that resulted in the game being the most watched event in television history. In the days of commentary leading up to the clash between two teams that weathered the storms of the season to make it to this moment in time, much of the talk centered around one word:

Legacy.

In case you were stranded on a desert island for the past month, please allow me to re-cap…

In the Northwest corner, we have the young Russell Wilson, a second-year, third-round draft pick out of Wisconsin. Russell would be leading a young, yet powerful Seattle Seahawks team that boasted the best defense in the NFL.

In the Mile-High corner, we have Peyton Manning, a 16-year NFL and 3-time Super Bowl veteran who is the epitome of the stuff legends are made of. This man has more awards than most of us have room on our mantle for, and would be leading the storied Denver Broncos, with an offense that proved to be virtually unstoppable on it’s march to East Rutherford, NJ.

With such a matchup, everyone expected it to be a game for the ages. Yet, with so many players involved in the success of each team, the vast majority of the conversation centered around Peyton Manning. “Can he win the Big Game to cement his legacy? How will his legacy be affected should the Broncos lose? Will his legacy survive in the event of defeat?

Legacy… There’s that word again.

From the first snap of the game, things seemed to go wrong for the Broncos. A 2-point safety on the opening play of the game defined the rest of the spectacle. After 60 minutes of play, and the dust and confetti hadn’t begun to settle, the Seahawks emerged victorious… 43 – 8. Immediately, the talking heads and media-elite began discussing the effect of this major loss on Peyton Manning’s legacy. Could his legacy survive this brutal beatdown? Would Manning hang up his cleats in defeat, and end his NFL career now?

Well, with all deference to smarter sports-minds than mine, I just have to ask a few questions:

Isn’t this the same Peyton Manning who just completed (arguably, with the exception of losing the Super Bowl) the most successful season in the history of the NFL? Isn’t this the same man who just set records for most touchdowns thrown, as well as most yards thrown in a single season? Isn’t this the man who was just selected as the NFL MVP for a (record) fifth time? I could go on about other records he set (including the passing record he set in the Super Bowl itself), others he tied, not to mention all of the records set by other members of the Broncos organization, and the team itself. But I digress…

Now for a reality check.

Earlier in the day, around 20 miles from MetLife stadium, the police were called to the apartment of Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. After Mr. Hoffman failed to meet his children and their mother at a park, she called a friend who went to check on him. Mr. Hoffman was found in his apartment, dead from an apparent drug overdose.

Philips Seymour Hoffman was considered to be one of the brightest and most talented actors of this generation, having starred in films such as Twister, Patch Adams, Mission Impossible III, Capote (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), the popular Hunger Games movies, and dozens of other films. Having seen several movies that he appeared in, I thought of him as a very talented person. According to stories I’d read, as well as interviews I’d seen, he seemed like a nice and humble guy.

So again I ask, what about the legacy? Have we become so shallow as to base a person’s legacy on a 60-minute sporting event? Has our collective attention span gotten so short that we decide the legacy of a life based on the manner of death? Sure, Peyton Manning had a really bad day. However, it does not wipe from the annals of sports history his incredible contribution to, not just football, but to the lives of young people that he sowed into through other benevolent endeavors. And while Mr. Hoffman may have died with (as the police have reported) a needle still in his arm, it does not erase the hours of great theatrical performances, or tarnish the Oscar statue he earned for just one of those great performances.

So where am I going here? Simply this…

The legacy of a life is built on miles, not inches. It is built on years, not seconds. Sure, there are those people who are only remembered for a sad, solitary event (John Wilkes Booth, John Hinckley, James Earl Ray, etc.). However, for most of us, a positive legacy is built over a lifetime of actions, attitudes, and contributions. It is built on a foundation of what we did to change the world around us, and how those changes affected others. People may remember that Peyton Manning lost Super Bowl XLVIII, but what Peyton Manning will be remembered for will be for being one of the best athletes to ever play the game of football. People will remember the manner of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, but he will be remembered for being a brilliant actor who brought to life memorable characters for the rest of us to live vicariously through.

But… here’s the catch. When time has ended, and eternity is upon us; when the crowd noise has finally ceased; the Super Bowl rings, Vince Lombardi Trophy, and Oscar statues have turned to dust; and the accolades and applause have long since died away, only one legacy will matter: What did you do with Jesus? The Bible says:

“… It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” ~ Hebrews 9:27

While the rest of the world may mourn your brilliance and contributions to society, when you take that final breath, the only thing that will matter is how you lived your life for Jesus. Did you live a life that honored Him? Did you point others to His blood-stained cross? Did you accept the love that He died to demonstrate?

A good legacy may stand the test of time, but only what you do with Jesus will stand the test of eternity.

If you would like to have a personal relationship with Jesus, and start a legacy that will last forever, pray this prayer…

Dear Lord Jesus, come into my heart. Forgive me of my sin.
Wash me and cleanse me. Set me free. Jesus, thank You that You died for me. I believe thatYou are risen from the dead and that You’re coming back again for me. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Give me a passion for the lost, a hunger for the things of God and a holy boldness to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m saved, I’m born again, I’m forgiven and I’m on my way to Heaven because I have Jesus in my heart.

If you prayed that prayer in faith, please let us know. Please drop me a comment here, or you can call us at 1-800-877-6493. We would love to celebrate with you your decision to join God’s family!

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