In many cases when an older person dies all that remains might be a box of photos without any identification or explanations on them. A few of the obvious facts about the person's life might be shared in the obituary. Personal stories and experiences are often quickly forgotten, if they were even ever known by others. Memories will probably soon fade for those who remain.
For several years I have been passing on pictures and writings to my grandchildren. I have written well over 150 pages with information about our ancestors, about my life and about the things that are important to me. For a dozen or more years I have also prepared an annual DVD with key pictures of the family events from that year.
But the most important part of leaving a legacy is the life that you live. Some of the most important parts of a legacy are how you live and what you say. We need to remember that our friends, our children and our grandchildren are watching how we live and react to things. And this can be a real challenge.
Now this blog was not to be about the practical points of leaving a legacy but about the possible future impact of your influence and life. And this thought came to my mind as a result of a recent Christmas meditation in David Jeremiah's monthly devotional booklet, "Turning Points". The meditation was on the journey of the magi based on Matthew 2:1-2.
Actually, we don't know too much for sure about the magi. Tradition says that there were three, but there could have been fewer or more. Tradition gives them names, but the Bible doesn't. Tradition shows them at the manger but they probably came much later. What we do know is that two thousand years ago they trekked westward where they found and worshipped the Savior.
Now there are many possible explanations of who they might have been, but David Jeremiah shares one that I have never heard before. He starts by sharing how Daniel, the young Jewish exile in Babylon, interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and was appointed chief of the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:48). He mentions how Daniel wrote extensively about the coming of Christ. He guesses that Daniel probably passed along a keen anticipation for the coming Messiah. He then concludes that perhaps the wise men in Matthew 2 were from a sect among the eastern Magi devoted to the writings or oral traditions of Daniel. An interesting idea.
Now what really caught my attention was the conclusion of the meditation. "If so, Daniel cast a long shadow. So do we. Future generations will be influenced by how we live, what we believe, and how we pass on our faith. Should Christ tarry, you can still be influencing the world a hundred years from now by your devotion to Christ today." Wow!
And I know that is really true. I am blest to come from a long line of strong believers, some of whom were pastors while others were faithful believers. Some of them actually left writings and for others the stories of their lives and ministries have been passed on through the generations. i doubt that they ever thought that their lives would influence my life, generations later. But they did.
Now you may not have been blest to have the same type of heritage and, in fact, it is possible that things done by your ancestors may not be things that you even want to know about or remember. But you can begin today to leave a positive influence on the next generation and, maybe even generations to come, by living a life committed to serving the Lord and demonstrating His love to others. It's never too late to start. Ask the Lord to allow your life with Him to impact those around you today as well as those who follow ... and, should the Lord tarry, maybe even a hundred or more years from now. Your life could have a profound positive impact on future generations and that would be an amazing legacy.