When Emerson was born, one year ago on the 23rd of this month, I started to think a lot more about my legacy. All of a sudden, there was a little boy here who, if something happened to me, would only ever know his mommy indirectly. I started writing letters to him on the day of his birth so that he would be able to someday (whether I'm physically there or not) "hear" his mama's voice, speaking to him of the love I have for him, the moments we are experiencing together, and the things I hope and pray for his future. I have also been giving more consideration into the other artifacts of my life might speak to him. What memories would Matt and others who know me be able to share with Emerson? What stories would the pictures taken of and by me tell to him? What might he learn from my writings or the things I've accumulated through my life and held onto for various reasons?
In these considerations, I've come to a greater appreciation for what is said of Abel in the book of Hebrews:
"By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks." (Hebrews 11:4)
I don't think I've ever stopped to consider before what kind of life Abel might have lived had his brother not taken it from him. He didn't need a long life filled with great deeds to leave a lasting legacy, though. In spite of the death of his physical body, the tale of his obedience lives on as an eternal testament to his righteousness and faith. And as we read and reflect on Genesis 4 today, we can still "hear" the simple truth taught by Abel's sacrifice: Obedience is not determined by what we think but by what God says (Hebrews 11:4). Just consider, for example, how different King Saul's life might have gone if he had looked at Abel's legacy and learned this very thing! (See 1 Samuel 13 & 15 for just two instances that would have gone a lot differently.)
So now I turn back to my own legacy. Regardless of if I live many more years or if I die today, I will leave a legacy behind - one that will either point my son (and others) toward heaven or lead into the darkness of the path toward hell. If I were to die today, what would my legacy speak? Would it speak of faith and love and kindness, or would it hiss out stories of selfishness and bitterness? Would it declare the greatness of God's blessings, or would it focus instead on the "I wishes" and "I wants" that were never achieved? Would it exhort others to turn to God and submit to His rule, or would it put forth the lie that our own thoughts and desires are the truer guides? Would my legacy be one that could be rejoiced over, or would it be another sad cautionary tale?
I believe I am not alone when I say I have much to work on in regard to my legacy. And I thank God that I have been given the time to do so. Would you join me today in considering what your legacy will speak? Will you do it today, while you still have time?
"Working together with Him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says, 'In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:1-2)
"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit' - yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.' As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." (James 4:13-17)
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Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.