James 4:14 (NIV) "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."
As I stood over my Grandmother's graveside this week I reflected on the years we shared together. As her only grandaughter special memories filled my mind while her love remains in my heart. She was a delightful woman; kind and helpful to others. Her life has left an imprint on mine.
As I gazed at her headstone the reality of death swept over me. Life is but a breath; an inevitable reality each of us will face. Odds are, sometime within the next fifty years (depending on your age) your remains will fit into a pine box six feet underground with an etched marker of who you were.
When it comes time for your loved ones to pick the words and adjectives to describe you on your headstone, what will they say? Loving Mother, Trusted Friend, Committed Disciple. What will people share about you if you have a memorial service? What impression will you leave on others?
How we are remembered in death is based solely on who we were and how we lived in life. It is imperative that we live the legacy we want to leave.
Will we be remembered as one with integrity, character, who is honest and above reproach? One who pursued Christ and intentionally shared His love with others? Or, will people's minds be filled with thoughts of half-hearted commitment, pride and selfishness?
James 4:14 reveals the brevity of life. James is instructing his audience to not live as if they are in control of their life or as if they know their future and have so many tomorrows. Instead, we are to realize that our knowledge is limited and God is in control of our tomorrows. We are given today and this should prompt us to live intentionally in order to make the most of it.
The legacy we leave impacts the hearts of those around us. Embracing this truth affects the choices we make each day. These choices formulate who we are and ultimately affect our relationships with others.
Establishing a solid foundation of biblical understanding and spiritual maturity cannot be underestimated. For example, we need to ask what kind of legacy are we leaving our children? Is it one of faith or futility? What kind of legacy are we establishing in our marriage? Is it one of unity or individualism? Are we team partners or co-existing as roommates? God's design for marriage is far different than how the world defines it. To love and respect our spouse is to maintain this covenant relationship.
There are times when the woes and concerns of life weigh me down and I forget the bigger picture. Refocusing my efforts as a wife, mom and minister to women helps me to be intentional with my choices for today. I don't always get it right, but my desire is to live purposefully for today, to imprint Christ on my boys' hearts, to maintain a God-honoring marriage and to strive to reflect His love to others.
God gave us breath. Our sole purpose in living is to bring glory to Him. We get one chance to establish the legacy we will leave behind. This legacy, whether good or bad, is passed on to our children, families, friends, and co-workers. Let's live the legacy we want to leave.
Adolph Hitler, . . . he left the legacy he lived.
Mother Theresa,. . . she left the legacy she lived.
Osama Bin Laden, . . . he left the legacy he lived.
Martin Luther King, . . . he left the legacy he lived.
King Saul, . . . he left the legacy he lived.
King David, . . . he left the legacy he lived.
Judas Iscariot, . . . he left the legacy he lived.
Apostle Paul, . . . he left the legacy he lived.
Jesus Christ, . . . he left the legacy he lived.
YOU, . . . are living the legacy you will leave.
Write down the legacy you would like to leave. What do you need to change in your life in order to leave your desired legacy? Be specific.
Compare and contrast the lives and legacies of two Bible characters. How do their lives inspire you or serve as a warning?
Why is it important to consider the legacy you are establishing? What will the pages of history say of you?
What will you leave in the hearts of your loved ones?
Heart Changing Word:
Psalm 39:5 (NIV) "You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath."
Psalm 102:3a "For my days vanish like smoke."
Psalm 144:4 "Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow."
Hebrews 9:27 "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment."
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.
*Excerpts of this devotion are from a speech Hester wrote with Dan Retzlaff. All material contained in this devotion are her original ideas.