Saturday was the fifth anniversary of my mother's death. In some ways it came without much fanfare. Missing my mother is something that I have grown accustom to. I don't like it but like a permanent bodily injury, the loss becomes part of who you are.
This anniversary has got me thinking a lot about legacy. What am I leaving behind? What will I be remembered for? It is unlikely that I will write the great American novel, find a cure for cancer or pioneer life on Mars. The truth is, like most people, in three generations there will be few, if any, people who knew me personally. That can be a bleak concept. God's Word puts it this way:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. - James 4:13-14
It is true that we are only a small dot on the timeline of eternity and I think that calls us to one of two options. We can either give up and live life haphazardly and for ourselves, trying to get more things and live exciting lives. This is the advice of the world. After all, you only live once.
Still, I want to choose the other option. I want to live a life that guarantees a legacy. My mother lived that kind of life. She invested in spiritual things. Having been born the daughter of Arkansas share croppers during the depression and spending her adult life married to an inner city pastor, my mother never had earthly goods. There were no expensive belongings to leave behind to her descendants. Still, she left a trust to us.
My mother's gift to us was a legacy of Christlike behavior. The influence of the Christian life she lived each and every day will far outlast any material thing she could have left to those coming after her. She loved the unlovable. She won hundreds of people to Christ in her lifetime. She discipled women and children in how to grow in their relationship with the Lord. She prayed fervently for people. This became a primary ministry in her life as she progressed in her illness and was not able to do as much physically as she once had. In the end, she left an eternal trust. The inheritance that I, as an heir received, is one that will outlive my own life. In three generations, her name may not be on many lips but her impact will be resounding in many hearts.
That is what I would like for people to say of me. I realize that life is a vapor. We are here for but a moment of eternity. I have not collected many things in my life but I pray that I am speaking daily into the lives of others. I pray that the trust that I leave not only to my son but to all those with whom God has entrusted me, is one that reaches beyond today and speaks into the deepest hallows of eternity. I pray that all who come behind me find me, like my dear mother, to have been faithful. Our lives will not be measured by our own greatness but by the impact we make for Christ in eternity. Five years after my mother was "promoted to glory" her legacy is alive. I believe the fruit of what she did for Christ will last far more than even 500 years. Her's is an eternal legacy to which I am eternally indebted I pray that someday others will be able to say the same of me.