Legacy. It’s a word that calls up images of wills and lawyers, of our parents’ house or the family farmland, of stocks and bonds and bank accounts, of family heirlooms and…the list goes on.
But we leave behind a legacy much more important than material possessions. Is there a person alive who doesn’t want those they love to share the highest values that inspire and define their lives?
I can think of no greater legacy that I could pass on to my family and friends than the knowledge of how much God loves them and how Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross opened the door to eternal life, if they only choose to accept the forgiveness and salvation He freely offers.
But what if the ones you love embrace the culture that questions and rejects what you long to share?
As mothers and fathers, how many hours do we spend teaching our children what we know about God and praying for them to grow to know and love Him like we do? It’s even a command from God Himself in Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (ESV).
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
I’m not sure there could be anything more gratifying than knowing your grown children have passed through the questioning years and decided their faith in Jesus is no longer a second-hand version of yours, but a deep, abiding personal commitment of their own. Yet no matter how hard we try to pass on the legacy of faith, we can only plant the seeds and pour on water. It’s God Himself who brings the harvest.
But what if you come to know and love Jesus after your children are grown? What if they have no interest in the faith you would be willing to die for?
My latest novel, The Legacy, is the story of a Roman-era father, Publius Drusus, and his three grown children. In middle age, he leaves behind the philosophies that had directed his life to become a God-fearer, following the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then he learns about Jesus and embraces Him as Savior. But his oldest son wants him dead so he can be free of his father’s control. Lucius betrays his father and arranges Publius’s execution as a Christian. In the face of impending death, what can a father do to pass on the legacy of faith to his other children, Titus and Claudia? How will God answer a father’s final prayer for his children’s salvation?
When we reach the point where we have done all we can, when time and opportunities have run out, there is One who loves our children more than we ever could. We might only set the ball in motion, but He can bring others into their lives to get it to the final goal. We should do our very best to plant and water, but only God knows how He’ll bring the harvest. May we all know the joy of passing on a legacy of faith in the Lord we love!
Where are you in the process of passing on the legacy of faith?
Beautiful, Carol. Leaving that legacy seems like a life-long process. When you go through hard times, and your kids witness it all. When your kids hear you say, “I’m sorry.” When your kids see you pray for another. I’m so proud of your writing, Carol.
You’re right, Shelli. The most shining part of our legacy for our kids will be how we go though the hard times still trusting in God.
Phew. Have you heard the song by Nichole Nordeman? Legacy? That song is so powerful, and it often prompted me to ask those same questions about legacy as you raise.
Every part of our lives have the ability to leave a lasting impact on other people. I don’t have children, but I know that my parents have left a legacy in me by their faith. And their impact will domino into the lives of future generations too.
I love that song, Barbara! We really do leave a legacy in every life we touch, and I pray ours will honor God and point to His mercy and grace.