Legacy

Do you ever wonder what kind of an impression you make on the people you meet?  I am quite fascinated by what people remember about me after they hear me speak.  Teenagers often respond with some version of, “You’re that funny lady, right?”  Other times people remember my stories, “Are you the lady with the underwear problem?” or “Was it your son who yelled, ‘Pray for me!!’”  I must admit I am pleased that my wacky, overly-developed sense of humor brings a moment of laughter and delight to people’s memories.  I truly do appreciate and am grateful for this ability to see the world from a humorous point of view.  I daily offer this gift of grace back to God, asking Him to use it to bless others and help build His kingdom.

But as much as I enjoy these responses, what I love even more is when people are able to look past me and see the grace of God, the love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.  I love it when I am not even “in the picture” because the memory is so full of the awe and wonder of who God is and what He has done and is continuing to do.  That is why I chose 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 as the verses upon which I base this ministry.  This is the cry of my heart: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.  My message and preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about this concept of what kind of an impression my life makes as I walk through this world.  The word “legacy” keeps coming back to me again and again.  Partially, I think, because of the amazing legacy of grace my husband David left our family and friends.  His life and his death were clear, powerful expressions of the faith He had in Jesus Christ, the love he felt for people, and the passion he had for teaching and science.  The legacy he left was God glorifying and a rich blessing that comforts and strengthens me.

Because the word “legacy” captured my mind, I decided to look it up in the dictionary.  One of the meanings is, “something transmitted or received from an ancestor.”  I invite you to pause with me for a few moments and consider what legacy you may have received from your family members.  Even if your home was dysfunctional or even painful, God is able to use ALL experiences as opportunities to transform us and help us grow into people who clearly reflect His grace.  Open wide your arms and your heart to receive the many blessings He longs to lavish on you.  Let’s covenant together to make it a habit (a spiritual practice) to consciously examine our past to discover evidences of God’s faithfulness in all the seasons of our lives.  Let’s work at daily thanking and praising Him for the spiritual legacy He has given us through our family and friends.

In addition to gratefully receiving a legacy of grace, we also need to pause in the hectic pace of today to consider what kind of a legacy we are leaving those who will come behind us tomorrow as well as those we encounter every day.  What kind of an impression are you going to make?  How will people remember you?  Will they see Christ in you?  What kind of a legacy will you give to those who will follow you?  Think about it.

Last week I had the privilege of attending the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College.  One of the sessions was about writing a “spiritual will.”  The presenter reminded us that we spend a lot of time thinking about what physical property we will leave our family, but very little time considering what we will leave them spiritually.  This inspired me to think seriously about how I can be a blessing to those who are in my life today as well as those who will follow me.  I would like to suggest that writing a spiritual will is one way to ensure that our family and close friends receive a spiritual blessing from us – a way of passing on our faith, values, insights and benefits of experience.  To write a spiritual will, think about things you wish that person to experience, blessings you want them to have, what you are praying will happen to them, your hopes for their future.   Start with these ideas and write a few paragraphs or a few pages then share it with a loved one when the time is right. Pass on your spiritual legacy.

One of the joys of my life is when people tell me what they remember about David.  They share with me the legacy he gave to them and I am profoundly comforted and blessed.  May each of us live every new day in such a way that our legacy blesses others, glorifies God, and helps build His kingdom!  “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

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Shelter of His Wings

This morning the air was brisk and cool as I drove to the retirement home where I volunteer.  I was marveling at the glory of God’s creation as expressed in the variety of color and shapes of the flowering trees all around me.  Suddenly I noticed two large Canadian geese leisurely strolling through one of the lawns.  They, too, gave me pause to consider the wonder and miracle of God’s creative genius.  Suddenly one of the geese spread it wings and I marveled at the scope of the wing span and the power of those mighty wings.  That image reminded of a beautiful Bible verse a dear friend had prayed over me the day before: Psalm 57:1b, “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.”  Recently, I have been going through a difficult time in this grief journey and those words were profoundly comforting.

I realize I’m not the only one going through a time when the need for refuge, comfort, and mercy are preeminent on our “needs list.”  We all face “disasters” of varying kinds.  These situations often catch us by surprise and take many forms.  Sometimes the “disaster” comes as a dreaded medical diagnosis, financial uncertainties, broken relationships or marriages, dashed dreams and hopes, the death of a loved one, and the list goes on.  In addition, we can be bombarded with feelings of loneliness, fear, failure, rejection, or abandonment which compound the anguish of the adversity.

So how can we endure these storms?  Where can we go for refuge and shelter?  How can we find victory in the midst of heartache?  God is our refuge and our strength, but we need to choose.  We need to choose to “take refuge in the shadow of His wings until the disaster passes.”  Not only do we need to make a conscious choice to have faith in God’s providential care during times of trials, but we also need to put our faith into action and take steps to put ourselves in a place where we can experience God’s gentle, comforting, protecting wings overshadow us, calm our fears, and keep us safe.  As we choose to draw close to God and trust in His loving, powerful care, His grace restores peace to our spirit, joy to our soul, and assurance of worth in our minds.  In the shadow of His wings we find the intimacy every human being longs for.  By allowing ourselves to engage with God in a tender, loving relationship, we open ourselves up for the possibility of transformation.  When the disaster does pass (and it will) we will emerge victorious, strong, and passionate to serve Him again.

The question we need to answer is “how?”  How do we take refuge in the shadow of His wings?  One suggestion is to humbly yet confidently draw near to Him through prayer.  In God’s presence we can be candidly truthful as we pour out our hearts, our hurts, our heartaches, and our fears knowing that He will listen and understand – even better than we do ourselves.  As we rest and wait in His presence, we can feel our hearts heal and our strength return.

In addition, we can find shelter in the cover of His word.  As we immerse ourselves in the living word, believing and claiming his promise, we find hope and courage.  With His word of truth, we can fight the lies of the evil one.  His word brings light to the darkness of our mind and illuminates His power and mercy.  His word guides and leads us into new paths of righteousness once the danger is past.

A third way to find shelter is through the prayers and wise counsel of godly friends.  When my beloved friend listened to my heart and prayed Psalm 57 over me, I began to heal.  She brought me to the One who has the desire and power to help me during times of disaster.  She helped me find refuge in the shadow of His wings.

My dear reader, I don’t know what kind of storm you may be going through right now.  Nor do I know what your future holds, but I do know that you will not be alone and helpless at those times if you know where to go for refuge.  May His grace enfold you in love as you seek shelter in the shadow of His wings.