The moon over Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

How long will your legacy last?

I got into an altercation with a lightning bug yesterday.  Or rather my windshield did. I probably don’t have to tell you who won, especially since my windshield was moving at 70+ miles per hour when the altercation took place.

All these years living in the country, so many summers speeding down back roads speckled with fireflies, and I’ve never hit one. Until last night. And I’m not sure if it makes me morbid or not to admit that I found the glowing green speck on my windshield fascinating. After all, it’s not often that you see a bug splatter against your windshield and leave a glowing spot of goo.

But it didn’t last long. Probably not even 15 seconds. In 15 seconds, everything that firefly had stood for was no more than a dried-out speck on a car windshield. Lost. Forgotten. Not even a shadow of what it had been before.

I don’t know about you, but when I hit that proverbial windshield at the end of my life, I’d like to leave more than a glowing green mark that fades after 15 seconds.

The moon over Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The moon over Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Matthew 6:19-20.

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.

How many of us are working hard to build something we can leave behind for the people who come after us? I know that’s always been important to my parents. They’ve worked hard throughout their lives so that they would have something to leave to my brother and me.

But so many times I think we get caught up in thinking about material possessions–like houses and land and clothing and furniture and money–and we forget that all those things are temporary. Earthly treasures don’t last forever. They wear out. They break. Or people steal them away.

Would it be so much better instead to leave something behind that people couldn’t steal? Or that time couldn’t destroy? It’s not impossible, and it’s not as difficult as you might think. You just have to change the way you think about treasure.

I do believe that there will be a standard of living in heaven, but that’s another topic for another blog. Eternity will be bliss, that’s a certainty, but there will be some people in heaven who have more “treasure” than others simply because they took God at His word and lived a life making deposits in their heavenly account instead of focusing on their earthly one.

What is heavenly treasure? Well, that’s a great question, and I’m not qualified to answer it. For me personally, the treasures I most want to enjoy when I get to heaven are the priceless relationships I’ve built on earth. But the Bible is pretty clear that choosing to live a life that honors God results in treasures stored up in heaven.

But there’s something that living a life that honors God gives you on earth. If you choose to live the way God says is right, yes, you’ll gain rewards in heaven, but you’ll also receive blessings on earth. And the thing about God’s blessings is that they never run out, not as long as you keep on living for Him.

What better legacy to leave behind than a history of God’s blessings? What better inheritance to pass on to your children than your own personal faith that God is worth it?

Sure, money is nice. And a house would be great. But what good would those things do me in the end? More money to spend. Another house to pay taxes on. That’s actually probably what the money would go to–taxes.

How are you living today? Are you living so you can leave your children your wealth? Or are you living so you can leave your children your faith?

People who live for material possessions and leave behind material possessions often have legacies that last as long as a firefly. In a flash, they’re gone. If the only thing to your name is what you own, you won’t be remembered very long.

But if you live the kind of life that honors God, if you love people, if you do what God says is right, God won’t let your memory be forgotten. And your memory could be responsible for bringing hope and light to other people’s lives–and not just for 15 seconds.

Hand-painted wooden ornament on my tree, Haven, KS

More than a memory

When you die, what are you taking with you and what are you leaving behind? It’s a question that we don’t think about enough, even as Christ-followers. If we thought about it more, we’d be less attached to our stuff, don’t you agree?

I came into this life with my soul, attached to a body that’s given me all sorts of grief over the years. And when I go home, I’ll leave that body behind and me, myself and I will hit the road to eternity. And I won’t look back. But I won’t take anything else with me. No possessions. No successes. Nothing that matters to the world. All of that will stay behind. But does that have to be the only things we leave?

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to just be remembered when I’m gone. Lots of people are “just remembered.” They were just that face at the family reunion or the person who sat in the front row at church. But we all have people who’ve gone home before us who were more than that. They were people who we more than remember; they are people who touched our lives in a way that changed us.

Hand-painted wooden ornament on my tree, Haven, KS

Hand-painted wooden ornament on my tree, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 78:1-8.

O my people, listen to my instructions.
    Open your ears to what I am saying,
    for I will speak to you in a parable.
I will teach you hidden lessons from our past—
    stories we have heard and known,
    stories our ancestors handed down to us.
We will not hide these truths from our children;
    we will tell the next generation
about the glorious deeds of the Lord,
    about his power and his mighty wonders.
For he issued his laws to Jacob;
    he gave his instructions to Israel.
He commanded our ancestors
    to teach them to their children,
so the next generation might know them—
    even the children not yet born—
    and they in turn will teach their own children.
So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
    not forgetting his glorious miracles
    and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors—
    stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
    refusing to give their hearts to God.

I had the privilege to attend a memorial service for a great lady this past Saturday. Her homegoing was fairly unexpected, and I didn’t know her well. But I know her family, and I know she was an amazing person in this life. I stayed in her home many times and was always touched by her hospitality. And as I sat in that memorial service and listened to the stories that her children and her grandchildren and even her hairdresser shared, I thought about what it means to leave a legacy.

There are all kinds of legacies people can leave behind. There are financial legacies, corporate legacies, political legacies. You name something that can be inherited–good or bad–and it can be a legacy. But only one kind of legacy really lasts, and that is a legacy that’s founded in something that doesn’t change.

Today’s passage is a reminder to share God’s story with future generations, to not allow the following generation to grow up without knowing the truth about who God is and what He has done.

I don’t have kids, but that doesn’t mean I’m exempt. We all have a responsibility to share God’s truth with the people around us. We have a responsibility to invest in the lives of people around us. We are commanded to love others, to give preferential treatment to others. And if you do that, if you give something of yourself to someone else, through God’s Holy Spirit, you will accomplish something bigger than what you imagine, even if it’s something small.

God loves to take small things and make them huge. God can take your small act of kindness and turn it into something earth shattering. You never know what God will do with an ounce of love freely given.

So don’t pass up an opportunity to invest in someone else today. Don’t miss your chance to leave a legacy, whether it’s just telling someone the story of Christ or buying groceries for a neighbor in need. You may think it’s small, but God takes small and makes it huge. He makes it last. And if He makes it last, that memory will live on even when you’ve gone home. It will be more than a memory; it will be a reminder of God’s love that helps someone else find their way in the darkness.

That’s the kind of legacy I want to leave.