What is legacy? The dictionary says it is something handed down from an ancestor or from the past. Your legacy consists of the many memories attached to the actions, behaviors, and words that you leave to your children, grandchildren, and others. Legacy is the part of you that, long after you are gone, lives on in the hearts and lives of those whom you loved and who loved you. It has the possibility to change their lives in uncommon, sometimes miraculous ways.
You have been living a legacy all your life. You have laid down precepts you hope will prosper your children and grandchildren. You have told them truths so they will recognize truth when they hear it. You have loved them ardently so they will know how to love. You have forgiven them over and over so they will know how to forgive. You have fed them so they will know how to feed others. You have guided them so they will know how to walk the paths God has planned for them. You have nurtured them so they will know how to meet others’ needs with compassion. You have prayed with and for them so they will know the worth of prayer. You have pointed them to Jesus so they will know the Way and can point others to Christ. Wow, that’s powerful!
You may think that you have not accomplished all that, and maybe you haven’t. However, you have probably done a significant amount. Don’t worry. Just get busy. Start right now, living intentionally and building on the foundation that is already there.
My children and I have great times remembering their father, my husband of 45 years. Even though he was a dedicated Army officer, he was first and foremost a devoted family man. They remember his parenting the most. He always carved time out of his busy schedule to attend their activities. He always made them feel special. He insisted that family dinners be eaten daily around the dining room table, with lots of conversation. They remember he was strict, but he was always fair, and he always encouraged them to be the best that they could be. I, too, remember many happy times: family vacations, moves to different places, long trips in the car, and sitting in church as a family. He left us with a legacy of family togetherness.
My mother reigned as matriarch of our household for almost 30 years. She left an indisputably unique legacy to her family and many others who knew her. She read her Bible constantly, inviting the grandchildren who passed by her open door to come in and read something for her. She prayed, kneeling beside her bed, also with her door open, as an invitation to us, and as a testimony to her love for the Lord, whom she boldly proclaimed. Her routine of praying daily at noontime is still practiced in our family. She left us a legacy of deep faith.
So, if you have not thought seriously about your legacy, ask yourself: “What memories am I making that will live after I die? What things that I do now, good or not-so-good, will my children imitate?” These are questions from which both you and your family can benefit. Now is the time to focus on building a good, strong legacy to ensure that those who follow you have a sturdy foundation upon which to build their own legacies.