You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
When I was younger, I used to dream of leaving a legacy behind when I departed this earth, a monument of my achievements for my family. I typically thought in terms of money, or material items. Perhaps I would leave a mansion, and I would be remembered by generations of grandchildren to come.
When Mary’s father made his transition in 2004, I began looking upon leaving a legacy in different terms. Mary’s Dad left a clear and memorable legacy to many people, including his children. This became vividly apparent as all his four children and I were privileged to be included in his memorial service, where we sang hymns and songs in his honor. Pete loved to sing. He could open his mouth and the pure joy of singing would pour forth.
And it wasn’t just Pete. Mary’s Mom made her transition several years prior to Pete’s passing. Both shared that joy of singing and music in general. They left a legacy of song to their children. And each child, in their own unique way, embraced that gift of music.
As we consider the legacy of Jesus, we understand that above all other qualities, love and forgiveness were paramount. He demonstrated those characteristics, and he taught them by word and living example.
Before we leave a legacy, we must first live the legacy. We can not leave behind something we have not created in our life. I look at what my mom and dad have created. It is not wealth, in terms of money or possessions. But Dad left behind a legacy of being unflappable in stressful situations. I remember being a child and watching with interest as Dad was working in the garage on the carburetor of our car. (Remember those?). To this day I don’t understand what happened, but I turned my head for a moment, and when I turned back, Dad had a Mason Jar of flaming gasoline in his hand. He walked by me and calmly threw this liquid fire out the back door of the garage onto the grass. For years that barren spot stood as a monument of calmness amidst stress for me. And to this day, I avoid working on automobiles at all costs!
Dad also suffered a major heart attack and drove himself to the hospital. Calm amidst the storm of pain and life - that is the legacy Dad leaves.
Mom will leave behind her a legacy of loyalty and commitment: commitment to her children and to her husband. Mom selflessly served her beloved husband and has taught commitment and allegiance through word and example.
What is our legacy? Our legacy is what remains of us on this earth after we have dropped our body. What are we creating in this life that we will leave behind? We are creating something, and that something will be left behind. We will be remembered for our attitude, presence, words, and actions, and once we are gone, they will leave a pleasurable aroma or a putrid stench.
Our legacy will include our ability to express calm, peace, and joy amid the troubles of life. It will involve our willingness to receive and express God’s grace. 1 Corinthians 3:10 reads: “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.”
Our legacy will be about what we carry in our purse or back pocket. Is it inspiration and joy to hand out when the world brings discouragement, a disapproving look, and disrespect? Or is it condemnation and criticism? Our legacy is built by what we give to others. And that can include our time, treasure, talents, and service. In 2 Corinthians 8:7, we read: But since you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you - see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
Our legacy will be judged by our aptitude to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to … Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
Certainly, our family and friends will know our legacy by the unconditional love we express toward them, our commitment and loyalty, and by the example of our living God’s word.
Our legacy involves our purpose in life, and our purpose is however God uses us. God can only use us to the extent that we open ourselves and allow Spirit to flow forth.
Some people think too much about their place on earth. They analyze their talents and skills, and personality type, and try to figure out what their purpose is. I think it’s easier than that. What do we allow God to do through us? How does God express through us?
Sure, if we have talents, skills and natural tendencies, God will use those to express into His Universe, if we will allow Him. Usually, we don’t accomplish nearly as much during a lifetime when we try to control everything ourselves. Regardless of what we believe our abilities are, if we allow it God will use us to further creation. It’s not over yet … Creation is ongoing, and if we agree to it, we can become partners in creation, co-creators with God. By tapping into the vast God-power within, we can be a vessel for amazing things to take place. But we must stop limiting ourselves and focusing on the frivolous. Let us call forth God’s greatness.
A fellow was being interviewed by a local news network. The host asked him: what are you proud of in your life? He answered her by stating that he was proud that he was in the Guinness Book of World records for sucking on a hard candy longer than anyone. She looked at him and asked: Is that it? Is that what you’re proud of? Someone who aced their college entrance exams, and you’re proud of sucking a piece of candy? We need to ask ourselves: what am I proud of in my life?
To tap into the unlimited power of God within, the first step is being aware that it is possible. We’ve all read about it happening: a woman picks up a car from her trapped child. A 23-year-old man is stricken by a virus that damages his heart beyond medical help yet it heals itself. A man plummets from a 47-story building and survives. The Vatican confirms that a young boy’s debilitating gastrointestinal condition was cured through prayer. We call these miracles: An act where God remains anonymous but quite active. We know that it is possible for God to express through us in miraculous ways. So, the first step is to be aware that it happens.
The second step is to be willing. Become a willing, open vessel for God to express through. That may mean that we relinquish control over some things. We know the expression, “Let go, and let God.” Let us get out of the way and let God move through us, speak through us, love through us. We will eventually realize that it’s not our agenda anyways; it’s God’s. Will Spirit nudge us in certain directions? Of course, and usually by feelings, or inner awareness; what we call intuition. We must learn to listen to the still small voice and become willing to become willing.
Third, be prepared. We don’t know when God will utilize our mind, voice, body, or some other aspect for service. If we have a talent, regardless of what it is – develop it. If we have an interest – pursue it. If we have a cause – advance it. Prepare our self for the partnership with God. The more prepared we are mentally, spiritually, or physically the easier we make it for God. God wants us to leave an astounding legacy, one that reflects Divine Wonder.
The fourth, and last point, is to remain humble. Whether we are open, whether we are willing, or whether we are prepared, God will still use us or any situation we have caused. If we notice that God is making things happen, we don’t need to take credit for it. Of course, people will thank us for our part, but know that the power to accomplish great things comes from within, Spirit within. Give credit where credit is due.
I studied hard to learn to sing. But I know that by myself, I am no more than mediocre. I didn’t attain whatever skill level I have by myself and have had lots of help along the way. Although I peaked about 10 years ago, still, when I get out of the way and let God sing and speak through me…it effects people. I have known this for a while now: God uses me - my singing and my words, and I am humbled to be a co-creator in this experience.
Each of us receives unique urges. Christ longs to express through us because we are individually created as a vessel for love’s manifestation on earth. There is something God wants to express through you that He cannot express through me or anyone else. It’s got to be you. Every one of us is separately equipped for a purpose, God’s purpose. He needs us to be open to that expression.
It is my prayer that we are aware, willing, prepared, and humble, so that we can watch the amazing things unfold in our life. Our purpose will be revealed, and we will leave a powerful legacy because we will have lived the legacy of love that God had planned for us.