By all accounts, Jimmy was a bit of a troublemaker. Though his father was a preacher, he couldn’t quite square his own worldview with the practice of the Christian faith. During Jimmy’s teenage years, noted itinerant preacher John Wesley was at work, preaching the Gospel as he traveled. Jimmy drew great amusement from following Wesley’s “circuit”, verbally mocking and even throwing stones at the preacher whenever the opportunity presented itself.
One day, at seventeen years old, Jimmy was again following John Wesley around as he preached. But this time, something was different. Instead of throwing rocks and heckling the preacher, Jimmy found himself listening. Wesley was preaching in the book of Joshua, and Jimmy’s heart was convicted. He accepted Christ and was saved right then and there. It was a Pauline moment—with a conversion story not unlike that of the New Testament apostle.
As Jimmy grew in his faith, he sought to honor the Lord in everything he did. His conversion changed the course of his family and ushered in future generations of believers. Jimmy’s great-grandson grew up in a home where the faith of his forefathers was carried on, and where the Lord’s name was revered. You might have heard of Jimmy’s grandson—a man Hudson Taylor, Missionary to Chinawidely considered to be one of truest apostles of Christ since the first century. His grandson was Hudson Taylor, one of the first and arguably most successful Christian missionaries to China.
Today, Jimmy Taylor would be deemed a “troubled youth.” I’m not sure that the people who knew him ever thought he would amount to much. But much like Jimmy, I’m thankful that my past does not dictate my future. God has an amazing ability to receive us along with all of our baggage, and redeem our lives into something that can be used to further His work. The decisions that we make each day have the potential to change the course of life (for better or worse) for not only ourselves but for our families as well—sometimes for generations to come. Hudson Taylor, like many others, proudly carried the legacy of faith that had been passed down to him, parlaying that legacy into fifty-one years of service as a Gospel missionary.
What kind of baggage are you carrying? Whatever it is, know that God can redeem it into something to be used by Him. What kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind? The good news is, you don’t have to worry about it. A life fully surrendered to God will lead to the best and most enduring legacy you could hope for—a spiritual impact that transcends your own years and lives on into future generations—just like Jimmy’s.
This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”Isaiah 48:17