A stuffy senior’s residence may seem like a strange place to find some direction for my life, but as many Bible characters could attest, God can use all kinds of people, places, and events to get our attention. I volunteer at our local nursing home. I quite enjoy visiting with my elderly friends and hearing their stories. Several of them are just longing to have someone show interest in what they have to say. Some residents are eager to share some of their memories – stories of their family members, their accomplishments or their former work. Other residents feel they are insignificant and have nothing to share. I think it is a huge blessing to have them give me a glimpse into the window of their souls. They tell me of family or friends of long ago that made an impact on them. Sometimes they tell me of their faith- or of their painful losses- and sometimes they share their regrets. Regardless, one thing they all seem to have in common is an awareness that their story is in its final pages. These moments have caused me to do some thinking about the story that I am living out. Am I making decisions today that will help me to live out a great story?
My story, or the legacy I am leaving, is a matter that I have mulled over for a while. Not just because I had a big milestone birthday recently, although that may have spurred on some of these ruminations, but because I know it is important that I regularly slow down and contemplate my direction. It is easy for me to allow my time to get swallowed up in the urgent and neglect the important. I need to take time to rethink my goals and to make an intentional effort to, with God`s help, make a better story.
Have you ever given much thought to what legacy you will leave behind? Leaving a great legacy involves making a significant investment in the lives of others that will outlive us. I have heard it explained that an inheritance is what we leave for others. A legacy is what we leave in them.
Every day we make one small choice after another and these become woven together to create the tapestry of our lives. Prayerful reflection can guide us to make wise choices as we move forward. Understanding the negative ways that my past is influencing my present can help me identify changes that I can make that will help me live out a more God-honouring story.
I want to do something today for God that will bless others long after I am gone. Maybe it is simply showing kindness to fellow travellers, maybe it is by sharing the Word. Maybe it is demonstrating what it means to be vulnerable, to bravely reveal my brokenness and to allow myself to be transformed by the Lord’s saving grace and mighty power. Maybe it is being a good listener, showing love, or just being an encourager. We have a resident in the nursing home that is 105-years-old and she loves to sing. Sarah has told me several times, “When I was a little girl, my Mom used to always tell me ‘Sarah, you have a beautiful voice.’” Those were simple words of encouragement but they have had a powerful ripple that kept her singing for over a century.
Leaving a great legacy is like many other things in life. It requires that we be intentional. It is easy in our fast-paced world to let our story just happen. I find it helpful to think of different audiences in my life – my husband, my children and grandchildren, my church, my friends, and my neighbours. What do I want to leave in each of these?
No matter how you feel about your story, there is good news. Your story is not over. It is not too late to change your story and to make it a great one.
None of us knows when we will cross the finish line, but every day we have the opportunity to leave a legacy in others as we follow Christ, empowered by His spirit and participating in the ongoing legacy of the gospel in this broken world. God bless you as you live out your story and leave a great legacy in those who come behind.