Sometimes you can’t help but just laugh. The other day, on my way to take my daughter to school, we stopped at a red light next to a gentleman who had clearly just missed his turn. He was a bit frantic and trying desperately to figure out how to correct his mistake. He immediately put the car in reverse and attempted to back up to reposition his car. There was one thing, however, he failed to do: look back. As my daughter and I sat in the car yelling in vain, this fine man backed straight into the car behind him. No one was hurt and to be honest both cars didn’t really seem to be damaged at all, but it did give the two of us a little chuckle to start the day.
As we drove off I thought, how hard would it have been to simply look behind you? Why did he not just look back? Looking back is a big deal, obviously when you’re driving, but it matters too for life in general. This is what a legacy is all about. When we look back at our life what will we see? Two weeks ago, we explored the legacy of a biblical character named Gideon in the book of Judges. We saw glimpses of hope followed by mountains of disappointment. It sparked in me the thought of my own legacy: What wake am I leaving in the water for my children to see? What affect will my life now have on my grandchildren then? How will my intentionality in life today affect the people that I work with and that God has entrusted under my care tomorrow?
Here are a few, hopefully, practical ways to think about the legacy that we want to leave. Write them down, pray over them, and talk them over with a spouse or a friend.
1. Your legacy includes successes and failures.
I love the brutal honesty and genuineness of the Apostle Paul who said that he himself was the worst of all sinners (1 Tim 1:15). Paul’s life was filled with many commendable things that were worth following (1 Cor 11:1). And yet he was OK allowing his failures to be on display as well. It is a good thing to allow our successes, which point to God’s grace in our lives, to be on display. And yet our failures too can provide an invaluable lesson and add to our legacy.
2. Your legacy is never too late to start.
If you still have life left in you, you still have a legacy left to leave. The Bible says that God’s love never fails and his mercies are new every morning (Lam 3:22-23). Whether your children are older or you now have grandchildren, God’s love and mercy is at work in you as a follower of Jesus. Seize the opportunities you have to ask for forgiveness or seek reconciliation. May your legacy be that God’s grace is never done working.
3. Your legacy is never too early to start.
On the flip-side there are those too busy with all of life’s pleasures and pursuits to even give thought to our legacy. Unfortunately, our legacy begins far before we ever give thought about a legacy. Paul commends his disciple Timothy not to let others look down on him because of his youth (1 Tim 4:12). Paul understands that even at an early age we have much to give because God has given us much. If you’re in high school or college, you are already building your legacy. If you have yet to get married or have kids you are right now building the foundation of your legacy.
4. Your legacy is not about you.
Often where we get tripped up is making our legacy about us. Movies are made, books are written, documentaries are created to commemorate the legacy of people. But the legacy of a Christian is really not about that Christian at all, it’s about the God who has worked to sustain that person for the entirety of his/her life. Like C.S. Lewis said, we are the rays and God is the sun. Our legacy should merely point others in the right direction, heavenward.
5. Your legacy has eternal consequences.
The story of Gideon really ends in tragedy. The Bible says in Judges 8:34 that after Gideon died, “[The Israelites] forgot the Lord their God, who had rescued them from all their enemies surrounding them.” We tend to be a bit nearsighted in life, forgetting that we live on the blip of the line of eternity. Our legacy will have eternal consequences. We will either be pointing others towards eternity with God or eternity without him. Make it count.
Parents, one immediate application is to join us on February 10th for our family worship night. There will be snacks, games, lots of music, and of course we’ll laugh a lot. You can also visit our family resource center every week for updated resources to lead your family in a devotional time.
-Jeremy Dager (Age-based Ministries Pastor)