In one of the first few days following Billy Graham’s leaving his earthly home and moving to his eternal home, I read a post on some avenue of social media that made reference to Rev. Graham’s legacy and how his children have protected it. It might have even been one of his children who posted it. How’s that for giving credit to a source? My high school English teachers would be so proud right about now. Not that they’re reading this. But I’m not in high school and they’re not the boss of me anymore. Even though my reference is clearly, well…unclear, God made Himself crystal clear to me when he used that unidentifiable post to put a couple thoughts in my head. More accurately, He prompted me to ask myself a couple questions.
You see, my daddy’s health is in a rapid decline. As a matter of fact, it’s late into the night and I’m sitting by his in-home hospital bed. The very same home I grew up in, the home that welcomed countless friends and family, the home where Jesus was talked about daily, still feels very much like my home. However, the living room has been converted into a pretty top notch hospital room…only bigger and with Netflix streaming. The nights I get to spend with my daddy give me lots of time to remember. Remembering is important. So important that in Joshua 4, the Lord told Joshua to get twelve men, one from each tribe, and have them get a stone out of the Jordan River and put it where they’d be staying for the night. The reason? To remember. It would be a reminder how the Lord cut off the river so the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the very presence of God dwelt, could go across. Samuel was another man who used stones to remember how God enabled the Israelites to defeat the Philistines. When the generations to follow asked what the stones were for, it would prompt their memory of God’s great faithfulness to His people. So as I sit here with my father, I’m able to look around and see “stones” all over the place. This house, with all its familiarities, is full of stones; reminders of God’s faithfulness. I’m so thankful I’m able to look at my daddy and reflect on the life he has lived and see it as a stone of remembrance. His life, as well as my mom’s, is a consistent reminder of not only God’s faithfulness but also His unfailing love, forgiveness, provision and protection.
I know, I know. I said I was prompted to ask myself a couple questions. Here’s the first one. Am I protecting the legacy my daddy is leaving to me and my brother? I truly want to. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those who think my parents never did wrong or struggled. In spite of difficulties or struggles, they lived their lives completely dependent on their Creator both in word and deed. I’m reminded when James warns of deceiving ourselves by being just hearers of the Word and not doers. (James 1:22) Nope. They aren’t just hearers. They hear and do. I have been so overwhelmingly gifted by God to have parents who have impacted me and so many others for the cause of Christ and, quite simply, out of their love for Christ. So I’ve had to ask myself that hard question. Am I protecting the legacy and heritage of faith that is being left for me?
The second question is just as difficult. Here it is. Am I creating a legacy that’s worth protecting? What??? Get out of my business, Holy Spirit! The truth is, I’ve never really thought about what the ripple effect of my earthly life will be when I get to change my permanent address to heaven. Okay, maybe I’ve thought about it. But I haven’t pondered and wallowed around in it. Yes, I’ve tried to be diligent in living a life that points my family and friends to Jesus…while I’m here. But I haven’t considered the effects of my life beyond my earthly expiration date. Well, I sure am thinking about it now! That’s why I started this post with all the “remembering talk”. My daddy’s time on earth is getting close to the end, and you better believe his life will have great impact even after he’s gone to be with Jesus. But will mine? Will I leave my grand babies, Aiden, Zoey, and Palmer a heritage of faith worth protecting?
I get it. Really I do. Some folks didn’t have the Christ-centered example laid out for them that I had. As a matter of fact, some people have a family history when the only time the name of Jesus was spoken was alongside a string of profanity. Nothing there I’d want to protect. And I dare say there’s a bunch of folks that fall into that category. But that doesn’t let any of us off the hook. Maybe you don’t have a Godly legacy to protect, but you sure as heck can build one and leave it for those who come behind you. Or is someone going to remember me, or you, and try to bury my example the same time my body is put in the grave? Oh, what a tragic waste of a life that would be.
I pray and trust the Holy Spirit to use my life, both to protect the heritage of faith I’ve been given and build a legacy worth protecting. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22)