On her song Legacy Nichole Nordeman poses the question “Will I leave a legacy, how will they remember me?”
I have just left my secondary school. And as is customary we embarked on a couple of end of school pranks to be remembered by: there was a guy/girl uniform switch which was pretty funny with all the guys in skirts and the girls in huge guys blazers (and I’m sure the Bible has something unfavourable to say about that in Deuteronomy 22:5….) and the next day we came in early and filled the teacher’s car-park with our cars before heading to Tesco’s for a fry and then marching back into school to rapturous applause from the junior school (and angry lectures from our head of year). And that’s how my year will be remembered as a whole, but I started thinking, how will people remember me as an individual, what sort of legacy will I have left?
A legacy is basically just what people think of when they think of you; how they remember you once you are gone. And it’s not about having done some great deed to be remembered for; it’s more about your general character and personality – were you loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled? Indeed, Mother Teresa once said “We can do no great things, just small things with great love.”
Leaving a legacy is about getting on with living out a life of “faith expressing itself through love” (Gal 5:6). It is about humbly serving those around you with love, striving to make a difference in their lives, loving God by loving His creation. And when you do that people will remember you for it, and you will leave with them a legacy of what true Christianity is really about. And which may even end up pointing them to God.
Leaving a legacy isn’t about seeking fame so that lots of people will remember you. Look at the Ark of the Covenant. Pretty much everyone knows about it, indeed many people still devote their lives to looking for it (although Indiana Jones fans know where it is….). But, without looking it up in your Bible or online, who made it? This remarkable container for the Ten Commandments, which when present at the battle field gave the Israelites the upper hand, an item which still fascinates people today, yet how many of us know who made it?
We all remember Moses who got the Ten Commandments, and most of us probably can recall he had a brother Aaron (whose rod incidentally was also stored in the Ark, along with some manna), but how many know the names of the two people who made it? Because the fact is, the legacy of what they did far outstretches their personal fame. They didn’t look to make big names for themselves. They just got on with doing what God wanted them to do, and the result was a lasting legacy that changed many people’s lives. And that’s what we need to do. We don’t need to wait for the big opportunities. We just need to get on with it while we still have time. And then people will remember us as people who put their faith into action to make a difference. What better legacy to leave?
(And for those who are curious, it was Bezalel and Aholiab who made the Ark of the Covenant – now you’ll know the next time it comes up at a table quiz! And no, I won’t be sharing any of the pictures of me in a skirt here!)