Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Legacy of Obedience

I (Jonathan) recently had the opportunity to go into the mountains of northern Thailand with my 85 year old grandfather, Don Schlatter. When he visited these same villages for the first time almost 60 years ago, he had to hike the mountain trails for days. Things have changed, and for this trip, we got to drive in a nice air conditioned  pickup truck. 

We drove through the town where my mom spent much of her childhood and up into the Lawa villages my grandpa would visit to teach and encourage the believers there. He told me stories along the way of good times and bad times and how God led all the way. They chose a simple life devoted to hearing, obeying, and serving. In his grace, God chose to use them to do some very significant things. We visited two villages and in each, roughly half the people were following Jesus. These are only two villages of many where lives have been transformed by the gospel as a direct or indirect result of my grandparents' lives of obedience.

We also spent two days with the families of the key Lawa church leaders as they fellowshipped, strategized, and heard the Word taught by my grandfather. It was really special to be with these leaders, young and old, and see the impact they are having on the Lawa people. They too are striving to live simple lives of hearing, obeying, and serving, and in his grace, God will use each of them in significant ways. 

One night we stayed at the NTM training center for tribal lay leaders where  my grandparents served for 20 years after serving directly with the Lawa. We met young men and women who have heard the call to draw closer and learn more about God to better serve him. We also met the American and Lawa teachers who are listening, obeying, and investing in these young people. The cycle continues. 

As I contemplate the legacy that my grandparents leave, I am struck with a longing to have the same results under my belt when I am 85. I recognize the pride in this, and it begs the question, "How do I measure success as a follower of Christ?" Is it number of disciples? Churches? Schools? Grandchildren following Christ? And another question haunts me. "What if they had served in a different place and had only a handful of believers to show for 60 years of work? Would that be a success? A legacy?" 
If success is measured in terms of accomplishments, then perhaps not. But I believe that success is measured in terms of obedience. Any act of obedience is a success for a follower of Christ, no matter what the outcome. Likewise, a life of obedience is a legacy no matter what the outcome. I want to live every day, every minute in such a way that I am able to hear and obey the promptings of the Spirit in the little things till they add up to a life of obedience. My legacy, unlike my grandparents', will likely not look like much on the outside, but by God's grace, I pray that I will pass my own legacy of obedience on to my children and grandchildren. 
Thank you, Grandpa and Grandma, for this glimpse of your legacy of obedience.

A video tribute with more images

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is special Jonathan. Thanks for sharing it.
Joe Heinsman