From The Garden Bench - Legacy
Words by David Hollows
What is your opinion of famous people being remembered? Are you in favour of statues, streets bearing the name of a local famous person and the historical blue plaques signalling an important venue? Do you disagree or are you not really interested?
For those not so famous nationally but who are local heroes there are name plaques on benches and trees planted in memory of another person, often by family and friends. Bottom line is that we are all famous and a hero to someone who wants a memory of us because we have been important to them in their lives. For many of us, we go to places of memory to remind ourselves of former happy days and good relationships. All the above are part of our national, local or personal legacy.
Other forms of legacy include music. Songs, such as ‘We’ll meet again’, direct us to a specific era, event, situation or person.
Again, legacy may include the works of artists, poets, novelists and playwrights which are left to a nation or a group of people for whom that particular work or person was important for them.
Legacy at a personal level may include letters, postcards, photos and memories many of which are handed down from one generation to another with anecdotes to bring vitality to the object of memorabilia.’ Do you remember when ...’ often introduces such a tale from the past.
Legacy may also include people; those you have known in your local community whether this be a sports club, a hobby group or an education facility. It will usually involve personalities who have had a direct impact on you personally or your community. Marcus Rashford is such a recent example of a local lad made good. For those of us who have faith and attend a church, for whatever reason, there will be those characters we remember and who left an impression upon us.
Usually, legacy is a positive experience but not always; sometimes a financial legacy can lead to tension and disagreement.
With or without a legacy, we are all important to God.
Photo by Laura Fuhrman via Unsplash
Legacy is an issue which is dealt with in the Bible.
Cairns are a visible legacy left to remind others of a special event. Jacob and Laban make a serious promise which is marked by the building of a cairn. (Genesis chapter 31 verses 44 to 48) Similarly, when the Israelites cross the river Jordan, Joshua builds a cairn to remind future generations of the importance of this place (Joshua chapter 4 verses 5 to 9).
Wells are another important and practical form of legacy, especially in the desert area. Wells are important to the Israelites; when wandering in the desert as part of the Exodus story, the well at Beer is where God provided water for Moses and the people (Numbers chapter 21 verse 15).
Abraham’s well is another key watering hole (Genesis chapter 21 verse 27 to 31 and Genesis chapter 26 verses 15 to 19).
King Uzziah instigated a massive well digging programme as part of his plan of building up Jerusalem and the nation( 2 Chronicles chapter 26 verse 10). The image of the well as being an important place, is continued in the account of Jesus meeting the woman in Samaria for whom legacy meant that her encounter with Jesus was life changing (John chapter 4).
The Bible itself is a legacy from God to His people as it contains the stories of God told through His people over many thousands of years. The poetry, the songs, the letters not only give us an insight into life of the various societies down so many hundreds of years but the biographies give us a fascinating view of the people God chose to participate in His story (Hebrews chapter 11).
Still today, we have the legacy of Christian martyrs of various ages and cultures which help inform or faith today. Does it matter if St. George did not fight a dragon? But the personality and values of this Christian do.
The greatest legacy of all from God has to be His Son, Jesus whose life, ministry, death and resurrection have impacted so many millions of believers and non believers down the millennia.
For God so loved the world that He gave up His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John chapter 3 verse 16).
So, as a human being, what will be your legacy to the people you love in your family and friendship circles? Will you be fondly remembered for all your acts of kindness and generosity, will you be missed as a friend always available or will your memory be that of a grump who could have done and been better?
What will be your legacy for those in your local community? If you are a Christian, what will your church community best remember you for and will they celebrate your being amongst them? And when you stand before God, what do you want Him to commend you for?
God gives us a lifetime of opportunities to seize the moment and leave many valuable gems of legacy through our lifestyle and witness. How many gems will you leave behind?
You may find the following golden-oldie hymns useful;
Tell me the old, old story (Mission Praise 628)
Tell me the stories of Jesus (Mission Praise 629)
Photo by Cameron Venti via Unsplash
You may find the following prayers helpful;
O Lord, open my eyes that I may see the need of others, open my ears that I may hear their cries, open my heart so that they need not be without support. Let me not be afraid to defend the weak nor the poor. Show me where love and hope and faith are needed and use me to bring them to these places of comfort.
Open my life that I may be able to do some work of peace for you.
Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am becoming older. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful and not moody, helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it but I want a few friends left at the end.
Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details. Seal my lips on my aches and pains. I ask for grace to enjoy the tales of the pains of others and patience to listen. I do not ask for improved memory but for a growing humility when my memories clash with those of others. Teach me that I may occasionally be wrong.
Keep me sweet; I do not want to be a saint as some are hard work to live with and a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the Devil. Give me the ability to see good in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people. And give me, Lord, the grace to tell them so.
God bless you