It is never easy to contemplate the end of your life when you are in the middle of living it. But long ago I realized if you love your family, you will be sure to have a current and valid will. So, when I recently updated mine, it prompted much thought about what I will be leaving behind. Like most folks, thoughts of inheritance centered on financial and material things. That’s not a bad thing, but it is certainly an incomplete one.
Maybe the real loving question I need to ask myself is — what kind of legacy am I leaving? More specifically, what is my spiritual legacy?
What do I mean by that?
Everyone has a spiritual legacy. It may be a legacy of blessings or curses, virtues or vices, but we all have one. A spiritual legacy is an inheritance that cannot be quantified or measured. It is the life lessons and wisdom passed on to future generations. And it will have a more significant impact than any tangible inheritance. One’s legacy can be passed on through the spoken word or personal example. One author defines it as “the fragrance of your life that remains when you yourself are not present.” (1) My prayer is that when I am no longer present, my grandchildren will savor the aroma of my life rather than hold their noses.
If you have not already guessed it, my blog, TheBuddyBlog.com is a sort of legacy insurance policy. Yes, my grandchildren may remember the gifts I give them or the time I spend with them, but a written record of values, insights, and guidance offers wisdom that can stay with them forever. The power of stories is such that they capture more of whom I am and what I have learned. My simple goal, my loving gift to future generations is to write it, reflect upon it and share it.
The story I want to share in this Reflection is one sparked by some recent coincidental discoveries. Coincidences, I have come to realize, are those events in your life that occur by God’s providential arrangement of circumstances.
My wife Patrice has been doing genealogy research into my family, especially my mother’s ancestry. One day she came to me with pictures of two tombstones. She discovered that my mom’s paternal great-grandmother, Lucy Ann Griffith Ethridge (9/1/1843 — 12/8/1916), had engraved on her tombstone “With Christ in heaven.” She also located the tombstone of the first wife of my mom’s grandfather (Allen S. Ethridge.) “Lemma” Ethridge died in 1901 at the age of 24. Her husband, Allen, had engraved on her tombstone these words, “Her spirit smiles from that bright shore and softly whispers, ‘Weep no more’.”
While little is known about the women named Lucy and Lemma, these inscriptions hint at quite a spiritual legacy. I would have loved to have read their stories. But I know enough about my great-grandmother and mother to recognize that a strong Christian faith was part of the spiritual legacy they received.
On the same day Patrice found the tombstone engravings, I “coincidentally” discovered a post-it note written by my late wife Tootie that she had placed inside her Bible at Psalms 22 & 23.
One might think Tootie’s note was there because of the very familiar 23rd Psalm. But given her health issues the last few years of her life, I realized the location of the note was more about the “Cry of Anguish and Song of Praise” known as Psalm 22. She had suffered through years of chronic back pain only to be struck down with breast cancer. Reading Psalm 22, and knowing the spiritual and emotional battle she was fighting as she struggled with intense physical suffering, made her hand-written note all the more amazing.
What was on the post-it note?
How to Keep My Passion for Christ
1. Embrace my brokenness
2. Cultivate gratitude
3. Flee isolation and run to community
4. Focus on the Cross
5. Share the Gospel at every opportunity.
Talk about a legacy. That’s quite an aroma isn’t it? A fragrance, I pray, that will linger long enough for her grandchildren to savor when they are old enough to read.
Author’s Note: If you liked this post, check out a similar one dated March 13, 2018, titled “The Fire that Lights Our Way”
(1) Creating a Spiritual Legacy by Daniel Taylor, Brazos Press, 2011, page 4.