Across Pacific Magazine

What Legacy Are You Leaving?

by Bob and Yvonne Turnbull


   Periodically we all get reminders how mortal we all are - how temporary life on this planet is - and what is really important for the few years we live here before eternity.

   We were once again reminded of this when informed of the death of a dear friend of ours a couple of years back who was a husband - a father - and a pastor. Tom Rietveld was riding his Harley motorcycle in Bishop, California, at the posted 55 mph when a woman driving her car at 90-plus mph came roaring up behind him and smashed into him. She sped off but fortunately was later caught and arrested. She was an illegal immigrant.  If she was not in our country she wouldn't have killed him.  Seconds after being hit Tom was in the presence of the Lord. He left behind his wife, Diane, plus a daughter, other family members, friends, and the parishioners of Calvary Baptist Church. Why he was taken to heaven at this time and in this manner, only the Lord knows. As the years pass by possibly many will understand those answers as God chooses to reveal it, but upon hearing of Tom's ‘graduation' we got to thinking in two areas.

Don't Take Each Other For Granted

   The statement of "tomorrow may never come" is true. None of us know if we'll be alive tomorrow so each today we focus on those little things with each other, like - I love you - please forgive me - speaking in a kind and loving voice to each other - and praying not only for each other but with each other. We are also cognizant of how we say good-bye to each other.  The two of us never leave angry even if it means running down the driveway to stop the car pulling out of the garage to make sure all anger is gone prior to the exiting (Yvonne has done this before). We always do three things when we say good-bye - We kiss each other - exchange I love you's - and extend a spiritual comment such as "God bless you" or "May the Lord be with you." Should something occur where we wouldn't ever again see the other on this earth, we can live the rest of our lives knowing those were the last three exchanges we shared. That's why we no longer take each other for granted. Sadly in the early years of our marriage we did. No more.

What Legacy Are You Leaving?

   Our second thought was a question we've asked ourselves and would ask anyone. "What kind of legacy are you wanting to leave?"

   Tom's legacy? It is vast. Here is a small sample -- as a minister he never compromised God's Word. It wasn't watered-down. Anyone who heard him preach will remember him speaking truthfully, lovingly and with great encouragement. Yvonne especially appreciated his biblical knowledge, and his patience with her when she would ask him theological questions. His legacy includes the wisdom he imparted to those he counseled with. He left a wife he loved and a daughter he and Diane guided into being a Godly woman, who herself is now a wife and mother.   Bob will never forget when Tom rode his motorcycle over 100 miles to surprise both of us at Bob's mother's memorial service. He just 'wanted to be there' to give his support and prayers for this occasion. It's THAT kind of love and thoughtfulness that is a small part of Tom's legacy. Those are just some of the ways he will be remembered.

   One of the astronauts who perished onboard the Columbia was Rick Husband.  Rick's wife said on a TV interview following his death, "My husband's legacy is that he was a man of faith." A man of faith! What a superb legacy to leave behind. He proved it on many occasions, but none so striking as when we all found out that prior to going up into space he videotaped daily devotions for his two children, so that each day, since he wasn't in the house, they would still have dad leading devotions. May that information inspire every father reading this.

   What about you? Are you living a positive legacy filled life now? None of us can work on it when we're gone. Only now while we're living. God has placed you at this particular time in history within a particular country and within a particular marriage and within a particular family for a reason. How are you impacting them for Christ our Lord? What you are doing now will be your legacy!

   This would be an appropriate time to inform you of an excellent publication titled - The Next 48 Hours. It authored by one of Bob's former staff members when he headed up the Waikiki Beach Chaplaincy ministry in Honolulu he founded several years ago. This publication helps in the preparation of a family members impending death as well as someone who dies suddenly and unexpectedly. It was of immense assistance to us when Bob knew his mother's death was approaching due to her illness. It is very thorough and greatly guided us in proper preparation for that inevitable day. We won't go into details here as the website will be informative, and that website is -

   In closing, once again we encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to give you wisdom that if you were to die tomorrow, if the legacy you'd be leaving is honoring to Him. Thank you.

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