Ruth Duccini was the last female “munchkin” from the iconic movie, The Wizard Of Oz, to die. She passed away in January, 2014, at the age of 95. She was four feet, four inches tall, and lived in Santa Monica, California. She was associated with that movie for all of her life and likely was reminded of her celebrity past every day. But do you know what she was most proud of? She always told people it was her role as a “Rosie The Riveter,” the fact that she worked on airplanes in a defense plant during World War II. She was much more proud of her private service efforts than her public cinematic effort. She preferred her years of difference-making work over decades of recognition.
This reminds us that none of us can choose how we will be remembered. We know that our actions and decisions collect together like raindrops to form the pool of our legacy. We can look down and see a reflection of who we think we are, but others look at our lives and form their own impressions. Usually, what we desire to be most known for is exactly what we become most known for. But what do we want to be known for? Our looks? Our wit? Our wealth? Our stuff? Our talents? Our notoriety? Or, do we desire to be known for our godliness, service, encouragement, courage, love, faithfulness, perseverance, or similar quality?
Many of us attended a service to honor the life of a bright light in the Lehman family. She did not boast of vast wealth, prominent position in her job, in politics, or among the socialites of Warren County, or a maiden or married name synonymous with worldly power or influence. Yet, as every one present sat (and some stood) in a full chapel to hear three fine, fitting tributes, there were tears and sobs all over the room because Brenda made such an enormous impact on people. Her spunk and spirituality leave a hole exactly the shape and size of this godly woman.
She is remembered as “sunshine,” for a smile that was omnipresent. If you were there, you could not help but ask, “What will I be remembered for?” Salty language? Dishonesty? Selfishness? Gossip? A quick temper? Sarcasm? A love of controversy? Or a bearer of the fruit of the Spirit? A sacrificial servant? “What would my nickname be?” Whatever the answer, it is not decided at the writing of the obituary. It is being written moment by moment, day by day.
God writes King Hezekiah’s legacy, saying through an inspired writer, “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the Lord his God. Every work which he began in the service of the house of God in law and in commandment, seeking his God, he did with all his heart and prospered” (2 Chron. 31:20-21). He did what was good, right, and true before God. He was stedfast (“every work he began…he did”), submissive (“in law and in commandment”), and sincere (“with all his heart”). The summary? He prospered!
Brenda prospered in the way that mattered most (Mat. 6:20-21; John 14:1-4). She teaches us by example to live each day with such God-centered passion that no one can think of us without seeing Christ in us. That will outlive us! It will bless this congregation and community. And the time to work on that legacy is now!