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.