Legacy. This word is often in the back of my brain. To be honest, I probably think about it too much. Not in some obsessive way or anything. But I believe what we do with our time on earth matters and I want to make sure I get it right.
Our first Refresh group, now going on its 5th year, has been full for a long time. Most everyone in the group has gone through the four experiences. We just keep coming together because of the deep bond we share to chase after King Jesus. This year, as we launch into a new season of Refresh, Bill and I decided to take everyone back through the four experiences. In addition, we added four new guys to the mix. Admittedly, 16 is too many for a Refresh. But God was up to something so I just obeyed in faith that He knew what he was doing.
One of the new guys is AJ Fagan, my youth pastor from 24 years ago. Not just my youth pastor, Bill’s and my brother’s as well…both members of the first Refresh. For the first time in years, the four of us were together. What unfolded over 48 hours was magical. AJ’s story of Refresh is one that you need to hear.
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AJ and I have not been great at keeping in contact over the years. There is no reason in particular. Just two busy lives that have moved in different directions. He now lives in California, putting down roots and planning the next adventure of his ministry. I live in Michigan, work two passions, have two kids and a golf habit that requires some attention. But every time we connect it as if nothing has changed. He is one of THOSE guys… a life long friend with a bond that can’t be broken by the distance.
One night last fall I was driving home and decided to call AJ out of the blue. Somehow he answered and we end up talking for about an hour. We caught up, laughed a bit, filled each other in on our lives and then, as it always happens with AJ, the conversation turned to Jesus. But this time was different. Normally AJ is the one encouraging me to keep going and chase after the King. As I was telling him about Seek Well and how it has changed our lives, I could sense that he was tired…worn out. I could sense he needed to be Refreshed. So I made him promise me he would think about coming to our May Refresh. After a few months of badgering him, I finally sold AJ on Refresh and a plane ticket was bought.
Listen to how AJ tells the story…
“I found myself standing in the airport absolutely dreading the journey ahead of me. I really didn’t know why. I have always loved to travel, but I just did not want to leave Chico. I love this place. I love the people. I love the relationships Amy and I have built with friends here. This is the first time I really found myself not wanting to leave. When I called my sister and told her, she said, “that’s because God has great things in store for you this weekend and the opposition does not want you there.” Little did I know how true that statement really was.
God was working to get me to Refresh long before I ever knew it. I had been longing to just get some quiet days away to listen to God. That is exactly what God had in store for me… and more. The first afternoon Tim revealed that our group would be named Legacy. It was the first group, and the only Refresh group that would ever have this name. I was too dense to take this to heart at the time, but thought, “that’s nice, we’re called Legacy. I wonder why they chose that word?”. It was a fleeting thought that passed over without much consideration.
Then we all found our quiet spots to listen and reflect on some questions we had been given. I went through them and spent my time listening, writing down what I was hearing from God. After an hour, I began to get restless so I went for a walk. I just enjoyed Haven, the beauty and the peace, and thanked God for allowing me to be there. I thanked Him for his plan and for all the things that I have seen in ministry up to this point.
Then, a thought came over me, like a giant wave crashing on the beach. God said, “you will never have a son”. This statement stopped me dead in my tracks. This is huge because my family name will die with me since I do not have a son. But then, as only He can, he spoke to the deepest part of my soul. He said, “but I have given you a legacy of spiritual sons”. I began to cry. In that moment a flood of former students came to my memory. Now they are in all kinds of ministries and serving God in multiple different ways. I started to write down the names of these individuals who I have had the honor of pastoring. I walked back to the house, the most humbled and most affirmed that I have ever felt by God.
That night around the fire, Bill asked us to share what God had spoke to us during our time of listening. I repeated what I heard about having a legacy of spiritual sons. I talked about the names I had written down. Then another one of the guys sitting by the fire said, “you can add me to that list”. Your influence through Bill changed my life.”
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There is a bit more to the story. Around the campfire that night, AJ, talked about how impactful Refresh has been and that he had no idea he much he needed this experience. He began to reminisce about being a youth pastor to Bill, Steve and I. Then he dropped a bomb on us…he said “this Refresh, named Legacy Refresh, means more to me than you can know. For a while I’ve wondered what my impact has been. I’ve wondered where the fruit of my ministry lies. But now I see it. You three, you are my legacy. The impact you are making is a part of my legacy. My legacy is your legacy.”
This truth is so profound. “My legacy is your legacy.” I think what Jesus is saying to us, through AJ’s words, is this – we are interconnected. Our lives are intertwined and woven together. It is a part of the human experience. We never know how our actions, our investment in others, or a simple kind gesture can change the trajectory of someone’s life. AJ has a 20+ year investment in my life. My story, the story of Seek Well and Legacy Refresh wouldn’t have happened without AJ. AJ’s future church doesn’t happen with out Refresh. We are a part of each other’s Legacy. No one is an island, no one can move through life without the investment of others. That is why WE SEEK WELL. It’s not good enough to Seek Him alone. We do it in community.
Seek Well, together.