The Celtic Revival: Age of the Peregrini (9)
For he has died to us, the leader of nations who guarded the living,
he has died to us, who was our chief of the needy,
he has died to us, who was our messenger of the Lord...
- Dallán Forgaill, “Amra Choluimb Chille,” Irish, 6th century
Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.
- Acts 9.39
This account of the death of Dorcas is most poignant. The tears of those widows – lonely women who were loved, cared for, and clothed by one whose primary skillset was her ability with a needle – is a testimony to the power of good works. In the garments she made and shared, Dorcas left behind tangible and ongoing testimonies of her love for her friends, and she would be sorely missed. With what mixture of joy and sadness did they display those garments to Peter!
The same deep sense of loss fills Dallán Forgaill’s testimony of the impact of Colum Cille on the lives of those who knew him. Colum did many good works throughout his lifetime. His passing left a void in the lives of all who knew him, yet his legacy continued for many years, as the ministry he began expanded from Iona to Lindisfarne and beyond, even up to our own time.
Doing good to others is an important part of the work of our Personal Mission Field. It’s how we demonstrate the reality of Jesus, risen from the dead and living in us. Our witness for Christ consists primarily in being His witnesses. And we fulfill this calling as the character of Christ is formed in us and comes through us in all manner of everyday good works (Jn. 7.37-39).
Whether our good works happen in our neighborhod, like the works of Dorcas, or are far-flung, like those of Colum Cille, we each have abundant opportunities to touch others with the grace of God and to leave a legacy of love for the future. Every encounter with another can touch a life with the grace of Jesus Christ. A smile, an encouraging word, a helping hand, a compliment, a sincere word of appreciation – such good works, consistently performed, can leave a lasting sense of the love of Jesus.
Where good works are concerned, consistency and sincerity are more important than magnitude. And we can always improve in these two areas.
One of the reasons we have been saved in Jesus Christ for the sake of others, to minister His grace to them, to refresh them with the living water of Christ’s grace and Spirit (Eph. 2.8-10; Jn. 7.37-39). Salvation that ends only with us being grateful and at peace for being forgiven, but never reaching out to others, has not yet begun to blossom as the Lord intends. Jesus saves us to move us toward others in good works, that we may leave a legacy of love with those to whom He sends us each day.
Colum Cille built his legacy every day, leading his companions in ministry, caring for the needs of those around him, and bringing the Word of God to everyone he met. He was consistent in doing good works and sincere in his desire to bring glory to Christ. And his work lived on after him in the lives of those he touched.
We’re all constructing a legacy, and for believers, we want our legacy to be for the lasting glory and praise of God (Ps. 45.17). What are we leaving for the people we live and work with day by day? Will our passing from this world create a void in their lives, a sense of relief, or nothing at all? What kind of legacy are you building? What will glorify God and bless others when you’re gone? What of Jesus will others recall because you showed Him to them?
Today, what will you contribute to those whose lives and souls you will brush against? Your Personal Mission Field consists of the places to which God sends you each day, together with the people you encounter there. Prepare each day to go out into your Personal Mission Field to sow good words and cultivate good deeds. Live a transformed life in Christ, and show His love to the people around you. Talk about Him, and urge others to consider His love. The more intentional we are about working our Personal Mission Fields, the more sincere and consistent we will be in showing the love of Christ to others. And the more thanks and praise we will have to offer to the Lord at day’s end.
We will not leave a legacy of love by mere chance; legacy-building is resolute, visionary, diurnal, self-conscious work. And we are all called to it.
Like Dorcas, we knit our legacy deliberately, gradually, and with specific people in mind. And like Colum, we prepare our legacy of leading, caring, and teaching as we work our Personal Mission Field day by day.
Today, let it be your intention to contribute to a legacy of love.
1. Like it or not, you will leave a legacy. What can you do make sure your legacy brings blessings to others and glory to God?
2. How can thinking about and working for such a legacy affect your daily life?
Psalm 40.6-8 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
Off’rings You do not require – open now my ears, O Lord –
What from me do You desire? Firm delight to do Your Word.
Take my life in ev’ry part; write Your Law upon my heart.
Lord, give me love for You and for my neighbor, that holy actions may issue from me to …
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T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Clancy and Márkus, p. 105.