In the camping world, we live by a motto, “leave no trail,” meaning that we should leave nature as we found it. We are careful not to disturb the natural beauty, and we make sure we carry out the trash we brought in. By not leaving evidence of our being there, we not only share the pristine beauty with others, but we will be able to continue to enjoy nature.
However, we know that no matter how hard I try, the world is different just because I was there. By our mere presence, we change the world both for the good and the bad. Our effort to live in harmony with nature is to minimize the unfortunate inevitable damage we make to nature. Through intentional conscientious efforts, we restore to nature the best we can.
Our lives also touch people. At the end of our lives, people will not remember our great accomplishments, but only our character. The news is filled with people in the position of power or influence, but what is remembered is if they were a person of bad character. This never goes away but becomes the final statement about a person.
What we find in this Sunday’s text is the story about a woman who “was devoted to good works and acts of charity.” They do not state her great accomplishments but state her character. Doing what was good for others was what was remembered. She lived out her faith, and others testified to it. The respect they had for her was not based on her social position but was her character.
Our lives here on earth leave a trail, whether we plan to or not. At the end of our days, the only thing we will have is our reputation. The “good works” and “acts of charity” are footprints of our lives. Those we interact with, those we share our lives with, those we reach out with kindness, and those we show mercy to are all trails we leave behind.
When our time comes to an end here on earth, a group of people will gather and talk about us. They will be the “footprint” of our lives. We hope that they will be a part of the “trail” of our lives as we hope that our character had influenced them as well, so they too will live out “good works” and “acts of charity.”
As we are working to create a new church in a new place, we are doing “good works” and “acts of charity” that earn us a good reputation in the community. On Thursday, when I was at the food bank, we saw our footprint in the community. People were grateful for what we are doing, and they see our ministry as the “good works.”
Let us not tire in doing good, but let us continue looking to Jesus and doing what we know is right.