John Chapman planted so many apple seeds that he became known as Johnny Appleseed. For 50 years he traveled the Midwest planting seeds; Johnny Appleseed festivals are in several states each year. A statue in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati shows him lifting a seedling in the air. He took with him apple seeds wherever he traveled. He was one of the country’s first nurserymen.
Wherever he went, he left behind apple trees. His legacy is the apple. When people think of apples, they think of him. As Christians, what do we take with us wherever we go and what do we leave behind?
In college basketball, you can often tell who trained the coach because of the kind of offense or defense the team uses. The apostle Paul left behind churches he helped establish. In Troas, he left behind Eutychus, alive, who had been assumed dead after falling out of a window while listening to Paul preach (Acts 20:10). Dorcas left behind the clothing she had made for others (Acts 9:36-38). Jesus left behind a small band of followers who changed the world by sharing the good news which he had taught them to deliver.
My style of preaching goes back to Batsell Barrett Baxter, a main speaker for “Herald of Truth” radio program and my Bible professor at Lipscomb University. All of us have been recipients of skills, techniques, and information left behind by our mentors, parents, and teachers.
You can tell where a tornado has touched ground by the damage to homes, cars, and trees. Recently we visited the Smokies and everywhere we went in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, area you could observe the burned out fields, forests, and homes left behind by the forest fires that destroyed hundreds of acres of land. So you can leave behind bad, such as a fire, as well as the good, such as the seeds Johnny Appleseed left.
The impact of what we leave behind wherever we go may not be as obvious as apple trees, but in the words of John Allston, “The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind.”