Leaving. Each. Gift. Across. Centuries. Yielding. LEGACY
What is your legacy? Do you ever stop to think about what you will leave for your descendants? Do you consider what will be said about you years after you are gone? I do. When I was a young adult, I desperately searched for meaning in my life and even meaning for my life. I didn’t want to just live my life and there be no reminder that I had ever been on this earth. I dreamt of writing a book that would become a classic so that my name would always be remembered like the names of C.S. Lewis and John Steinbeck.
But I’m not Lewis or Steinbeck. I’m me. In observing my parents, both aging now and struggling with their health, and in remembering my grandmother who I still miss even after 35 years, I have come to realize that we all leave a legacy. It’s not about being famous so our name lives on. No, legacy is about leaving a gift that crosses centuries yielding fruit in the lives of those who come behind us. It doesn’t matter if they know where the gift came from. It only matters that they benefit from the gift.
What legacies can we leave behind? We can leave a legacy of abuse and addiction. We can leave a legacy of living for handouts. We can leave a legacy of anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. I have experienced all those legacies and have no desire to gift them to the next generation.
My desire is to leave two finer legacies: faith and love. My desire is that those two legacies are still felt thousands of years from now. It is possible they will be felt for years to come if each generation after me is careful to pass them on to the next generation.
The first legacy is faith in the risen LORD. I look to Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, the Israelites. Abraham had a faith I pray I could emulate. Hebrews chapter 11 lists several ways Abraham demonstrated faith. God instructed him to leave his country and go to a new country. Abraham went. No questions, no arguments, no preplanning. He just picked up his family and went. God promised him and his wife Sarah a child. He waited 25 years for that promise to be fulfilled but never questioned God. He just waited. (Sarah wasn’t as good at waiting.) When he was 100 years old and Sarah was 90, that promise was fulfilled.
God promised Abraham that through him all the peoples of the world would be blessed. When God tested Abraham to see if he was worthy of this promise , Abraham did not even withhold the son they had waited so long for. He was to sacrifice that son, but he knew God could raise him up again (Hebrews 11:19). His faith was that strong. Abraham knew the hard and good times God was with him and he was blessed. He trusted God completely. He loved and obeyed God out of that love.
I want my children and grandchildren to see a faith that strong in me. I am not there yet, but I am praying for it, and God is good at answering prayers like that. I want them to embrace Jesus as their Savior because they watched me embracing Him. I want the strength of their faith to carry them through trials and triumphs. And I want them to lead others to the Savior who loves them as well. I want them to be strong enough to follow where God leads to softened hearts, to be able to share how they came to know the Savior and then share how the people in their lives can know Him as well. Maybe my legacy will be included in their testimony but mostly it will be theirs.
The second legacy I want to leave is the legacy of love. It is one I have experienced greatly and why even though my maternal grandmother has been gone for 35 years, I often still think about her and miss her every time she comes to mind. She had a great unconditional love for each of her grandchildren. She listened, supported, and served us, always with love and patience. I would love to emulate her as well.
While my grandma was a wonderful example of love, the most amazing example was Jesus Christ who being himself God emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Phil. 2:7). He never gave up being God but chose to reside in a frail human body. He came to earth as the creature but still the Creator. Why would He do that? Because he loved mankind so much, he came to earth to be the only sacrifice needed to save us from our own sin. And He came while we were still sinners! He came to save us from the wrath of a righteous God. We deserved death. Instead, he took God’s wrath on Himself. He paid our debt through untold agony in his scourging and hanging on a cross. He was perfect but sacrificed Himself for the imperfect. He loved us that much! He did not look to what it would cost Him. He looked to what we would gain: eternity in heaven for those who accept His gift. Jesus Christ loves each of us today with a love just as amazing.
That is the kind of love legacy I want to leave. I want my family to know that I love them more than myself and that I would sacrifice myself for their good. I want to give of myself for them. Again, I am not where I want to be, but as long as I keep working on it, being mindful of that legacy and trusting in the Lord to bring me along, I will get there.
We all leave legacies. They can be good or bad. We can leave legacies of abuse and addiction that get carried from generation to generation, or we can be the ones to stop those painful legacies and build new and better ones. We get to choose. Don’t let your legacy be an accidental one. Instead be intentional. What will you choose? Change the future. Figure out your legacies and then work them out. Do it so well that a thousand years from now, your legacy is still felt and your gift is still yielding fruit. The gift giver may not be remembered but the fruit will be.
Choose a great legacy. Then act. As long as you have breath, you have time to work out your legacy.