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Reflections on a legacy a man left behind.
The Red Velvet Chair
They had just returned from out of town. John's dad had died. He was quite elderly and death was not a surprise. As I stepped inside their home into a spacious foyer, there in the middle of the floor sat a red velvet chair and a few small boxes of keepsakes.
As John took my coat he said, "We just got home and I unloaded the car. This was dad's favorite chair."
John's dad was a man I knew and I had the opportunity to visit with on several occasions. He was a man of faith. He had worked hard his whole life and been a great husband and father. Once he owned a large home and a business. His wife had died ten years earlier and he had spent the last few years in an assisted living setting and then finally in a small town nursing home.
As I sat visiting with John and his wife I thought about the red velvet chair and the few boxes in the foyer. That is what was left. That was all. But, of course I was wrong. There was so much more. There were the memories. There was the faith shared with his family. There was the Christian faith lived out by being a business man of integrity. There was the living example of 50 years of faithful marriage. There was being a great dad to children.
The size of the pile in the foyer did not matter. It would have made no difference if John would have had to use a semi to haul his dad's belongings. It would not have mattered if there had been a house, a cabin and a winter place in a warm climate. When death comes, possessions are not what is important.
I can see John's dad sitting in the red velvet chair. I can see the gentle smile on his face. I can hear the kind and affirming words coming from his mouth.
He knew there was more to life than possessions. He knew the good news of Jesus. He lived the good news. I will remember that and so will John. The red velvet chair might be around for several more years and the contents of a few boxes might be treasured by future generations, but the life lived in Christ is what matters.
As we prayed it was in thankfulness for a life lived, a life shared and healing for those that would grieve. The red velvet chair was not included.
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Adam Copeland serves as director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders.
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