Last Friday was a special day. We gathered at the church to say good-bye to a lady who was very special to Ebenezer Presbyterian and to the community, Mrs. Eloise Sloan. I told a friend that I was on my way to Greenfield to officiate a funeral, and she expressed her sorrow at my need to do so. “Such a hard task,” she stated. In some cases, yes, she was right. Some funerals are hard to officiate. But this one wasn’t. Eloise’s funeral was a celebration of her life and of her heart.
Once again, as I drove the 30-some miles back to Springfield, I found myself thinking about my life and its priorities. How would I be remembered? What would I leave behind as a testimonial to my life?
We are all familiar with “A Christmas Carol” and how Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by three ghosts, Christmas Past, Present, and Future, who helped him see the error of his miserly ways. It really wasn’t until he saw the future that he was convinced to change his life. So what will it take for us to consider our own lives?
The Bible, especially the Old Testament, talks about legacy, what we leave behind for others to follow. First Chronicles 28:8 states, “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the LORD, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the LORD your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever. “
Even the kings were to consider their legacy, as Moses taught the people before they entered the Promised Land. “When [your king] takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”
These passages provide guidelines for our own “legacies,” how we will be remembered and how our memories will shape, for good or bad, those who come after us. How I live today, how I speak, how I teach, how I love, how I choose not to love, these all make up the memory of my life. It is my task today to be sure I am faithfully shaping that memory, not for my own glory or recognition, but so my life can be a testimony of God’s faithfulness to others.
Very few of us will have a biographer to record the events of our lives. In fact, for most of us the only biography that will be written is that which is written in the minds of those with whom we live and work and worship. How can I live so that my life will make a difference? I think we can find some guidance from the New Testament. This is by no means an exhaustive study, but just a starting point for each of us, as we seek God’s will for our own lives.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
It is important that I remember to choose my fights wisely. There are many “fights” out there—hunger, homelessness, the ecology, and many, many more—and while these are all good and noble causes, the foundation of everything I do must be to keep the faith, to hold to that which is eternal. All other outreach comes from that central point and is balanced by it. When it all comes down, to paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13 somewhat, I can feed the poor and build homes for the homeless. I can preserve the earth and its inhabitants and all of creation. I can fight for clean air and clean water, but if I don’t have Christ, my life is nothing.
“It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:3).
The way you live your life is a testimony to many about God’s involvement in your life. When we choose to be faithful witnesses to God’s Word and to live it before others, your life becomes a witness to others that will stand for generations. Walk in the truth, not the current fads or the most recent gossip. Let your words and actions be guided by the truths of God’s Word so that you will give joy to those who have taught you, and hope to those who come after you.
“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:12-17).
Finally, we come to the example of Christ. Jesus humbled himself. The Creator of all things became human and washed the feet of his followers. He humbled himself as an example for us. Have you washed anyone’s feet lately? Not literally, necessarily, but by caring for someone who seems to be unlovable.
I think of the man in the news recently, a former announcer who became a drug addict then found the Lord but who was still unemployed and homeless. A person stopped and recorded his voice, put the video on YouTube, and the rest is history. The man is once again an announcer, using the gift he received from God, all because someone took the time to help him.
How can I wash your feet? By listening, by loving, by not judging or “pre-judging” you.
I told my children that I want my funeral to be a celebration, not that they are glad I am gone! No, I want it to be a celebration of my faith, of my Savior, and of the love that God gave to me and that I was able to share with those around me.
What about you? Write to me and send me your ideas for your legacy. I think that would make a great article!
Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor