Some weeks are harder to get through than others. This last week has been one. One of my daughter’s best friends lost her mother to cancer. Missy is only my daughter’s age and is too young to lose her mother. Losing a mother is devastating. I lost mine over 16 years ago and I still have some days that are difficult. Her and my daughter goes to the same church. On Saturday my daughter called and a couple I know really well who attends their church lost their daughter in an accident. She was killed instantly and a granddaughter is in critical condition. She has been taken off life support, but hanging on. We are all praying for a miracle. This young lady has a two year old so it’s important she survives. God’s hand is in this. This church has been hit hard. Everyone knows and loves these families. It’s a small country church so this has made a big impact on the life of the church.
Anyone who has daughters and granddaughters is saddened by the news. We become fearful and protective. I even went as far as asking my daughter not to drive anymore, which of course is impossible. I wanted to gather my babies up and give them a big hug and tell them how much I love them, but of course miles prevent me from doing this.
I was quickly reminded of the talk I just recently had given. Our United Methodist Women have a program called, Burning of the Candle. It is a memorial/honor program where we remember those who have left us and those we’d like to honor. We give a pledge of so many dollars per minute for each candle that is burning. We donate that money to missions. I was asked to give the devotion. My devotion this year was on leaving your legacy.
We all have a legacy of some sort-it may be good or bad, but we leave a legacy. Legacy is defined as heritage in my Thesaurus. I like to think of legacy as something we leave behind when we are gone. Something that tells others about the kind of lives we led. Each day we live we are building our legacy. I asked the women to stop and think for a minute about those women who have gone on before us. I named a couple of women I knew we all knew. I asked them to think about their legacy to us. One of the ladies I mentioned had a bubbly personality another was sweet and gentle.
I reminded the ladies they were building their legacy and asked them to think with me what kind of legacy they were building. This weekend I was reminded that we never know when our building stops and the legacy actually starts.
God reminded me this weekend that I may never get the chance to say I am sorry for the words I spoke to someone. I may never be able to take back those things that I thought or said in haste or without thinking. What if those were the last words someone remembered from you?
What about the unkind act we did in anger or the rage we showed as we were driving down the road or the revenge we took out on someone? What kind of legacy would that leave?
The Pastor that married my husband and I told us, “Never go to be angry.” What if we said never leave a person with anger between you two? How would we respond if we thought more about what we would be remembered for than our feelings at the time? “Stones are heavy, and sand weighs a lot. But letting a foolish person make you angry is a heavier load than both of them.” Proverbs 27:3
Even a baby that dies at an early age leaves an impact on the family that he/she was born into. The family is not the same because of that child being born into the family. Something changes in us with the existence of each human life. We are building a legacy each day of our lives whether we are aware of it or not, and whether we like it or not. Our personal lives have ramification on others. Our lives are like stone thrown into a river; there is a ripple effect.
We aren’t lucky enough to live for today and not worry about the kind of legacy we are leaving thinking we have plenty of time to work on it later on or when we get older. We are not promised tomorrow. So what we do today may just be your legacy for tomorrow. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Don’t brag about tomorrow. You don’t know what a day will bring.”
As I was sitting here I remembered how we all felt after 9/11. Then life moved on and we forgot or maybe not forgot, but we became placid again. Tragedy happens and we are reminded how delicate life is. We remember how short life is and how death is unexpected. We promise to change; to take life more serious, remember others more, to be kinder and gentler. Then life happens and we move on. We forget all those promises we made to ourselves and others. What we must remember is this: our legacy depends on how we treat others, what we say to others, and what we leave behind. Our legacy is not something we can build next year, in the next five or ten years, it’s what we are building today.
What kind of legacy are you building? We must ask ourselves this question: would the world be a better place because we have lived life or would it be worse? Would our lives leave others with an awesome impact or would they be glad we are gone? The difference will be determined in how we lead our lives; whether we are living for others or only to please ourselves.
Dear God: I pray for all the families that have lost loved ones. Life is short and we aren’t promised tomorrow. I never know when you will call me home or call those around me home. Let me be a little kinder, love a little deeper and help me to remember that my legacy is dependent on how I treat others. Complacency will come upon me quickly, but let me be reminded every day I am building a legacy; something that will be left behind when I am gone. It is my will to live for you and to leave this world a better place. Guide me into that path. Amen.