What we leave behind

I knew this moment would finally come, and yet it still gave me pause when it happened. I was sitting in my own office cubicle, at my own desk, minding my own business, looking through an old well file trying to reconstruct the history of the wellbore, when I turned a page and saw my own name. It was on an AFE to repair a casing leak that I wrote in April 1988, 23 years and 8 employers ago. Fortunately it was for a BDS AFE 1988necessary repair that turned out to be successful, and not some farfetched recommendation I made in my youth that sounds embarrassing to my wizened ears in 2011. That event may still yet come.

I was reminded of a line from the movie, Big Fish, “Fate has a way of circling back on a man; things look different than they did at a younger time of life.”

I’m used to seeing my own work from long ago, but it’s usually on my own shelves in my own home. For example, I have hand-written running logs dating as far back as 1978, and hand-written journals from 1983. But this AFE was different. It was in someone else’s file, a file that had been passed along from one operator to the next to the next, saved for all time, and for countless engineers to read and pass judgment. Or, I can only hope, to read and learn something.

I sent a photo of the AFE with my name to Mark and he wrote back, “That’s great stuff right there. It’s so cool that you not only got a good gig with a good company, but also a reminder of the footprints we leave.” Well said, by a good a friend.

The truth is, I think often about leaving footprints. About legacy. About lasting impact. Not that I care to be famous (I love my privacy too much), or even remembered (although I hope people will read and remember my books), but because I hope to leave a wake behind me of changed lives, to pass on what I learned from faithful Believers who invested their life and energy into me. It is one of the permanent voices howling in the back of my head, “Will this matter over the long haul?”

There is a Bible verse I learned in college, and it still calls out my name: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

I am well aware of the wisdom that has been entrusted to me by godly men and women through the years. It makes me want to sit up straight and show respect. It makes me want to give it all away, entrust it to others.

I tweeted: “Enjoying my reengagement with engineering; but it reminds me that I want to leave behind more than old reports in old files.”

Every time I read one of the Apostle Paul’s letters in the New Testament I wonder if Paul had any sense that we would be reading his writing so many generations later. I doubt he imagined anything happening 2,000 years after his death, but still, his writing rings with a timelessness of someone aware of his lasting impact. Yet, he clearly wrote to address immediate concerns in a way that made sense to his contemporary readers. Paul invested in them; and he invested in us.

Well, just today I started digging into another oil and gas lease that I first touched in 1983. I’m a little nervous to look too closely in the files, but also excited to see if any of my old recommendations were ever completed. However, no matter what those files contain, it is the large circle of people God has allowed around me that reminds me what really matters. Not old dried-up AFEs, but each other. The footprints I hope to leave are the ones right beside yours.


“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32


To learn about Berry’s books, “Running With God,” go to www.runningwithgodonline.com , or “Retreating With God,” go to www.retreatingwithgod.com ,… Follow Berry on Twitter at @berrysimpson or on Facebook … Contact Berry directly: berry@stonefoot.org … To post a comment or subscribe to this free journal: www.journalentries.org