5. It’s never too late to work on your legacy.
The creation of the Nobel Prizes came about through a chance event. When Nobel’s brother died, a newspaper ran a long obituary of Alfred Nobel, believing that it was he who had passed away. Thus, Nobel had an opportunity granted few people: he had a Frasier moment, he got to read his obituary while alive. What he read horrified him: The newspaper described him as a man who had made it possible to kill more people more quickly than anyone else who had ever lived.
At that moment, Nobel realized two things: that this was how he was going to be remembered, and that this was not how he wanted to be remembered. Shortly thereafter, he established the awards. Today, because of his doing so, everyone is familiar with the Nobel Prize, while relatively few people know how Nobel made his fortune.
Thinking about how one’s obituary is going to read can motivate one to rethink how he is currently spending his life. Eulogies rarely say he/she dressed well, lived extravagantly, took fabulous vacations, drove an expensive car, or built the most expensive home. I never heard anyone praised for being too busy at work to find time for their children.
A call to someone who is lonely, a listening ear to a person in need, long walks with our children, saying thank you to a spouse and to God, performing acts of goodness and kindness–are the essence of a life well lived.
The people who are most mourned are not the richest or the most famous, or the most successful. They are people who enhanced the lives of others.
They were kind. They were loving. They had a sense of their responsibilities. They were loyal friends and committed members of communities. They were people you could count on.
An interesting exercise for all of us to do is on the worksheet. There are three timelines on the top of the sheet, a line from the cradle to beyond the grave.
We can all place a date underneath the picture of the stork, none of us can put a date on the gravestone or above the gate.
None of us can accurately put a cross on the line to indicate where we are on the line from the cradle to the grave.
But we can sort of guess based on how long we expect to live. So why don’t you do that?
If you haven’t started working on your legacy then you can see how long you have left to create one. If you can put a cross on the line it means that you still have time to leave a better legacy and relocate your building material from earth to your future home.
You still have time to move your treasure from where moths, rust and thieves have access to it to a safe and secure place for eternity.
There are some people whose cross was placed ever so close to the gravestone or gate, decided that they still had time to call in their lawyers to rewrite their wills so that their last will and testament was in line with their desire to live and die with eternity in mind.
My role this blog series is to bring some truths about legacy to our attention in readiness for teaching on what kind of legacy we as a church, a community of Christ followers want to leave. I can assure you that I have left more material out of this mornings message than I’ve left in. I hope something from one of these 5 basic points will help you as you prepare to be taught more thoroughly and specifically about legacy.
- It’s not a question of if I leave a legacy but what kind of legacy will I leave?
- You may need many Frasier moments to keep you working on your legacy.
- Frasier like moments are incomplete.
- It’s never too early to start working on your legacy.
- It’s never too late to work on your legacy.
I want to finish this morning by reading two short passages from the NT which contain two principles that if you and I start putting them into practice each day will help us build the legacy we will be happy to leave behind us.
Gal 6: 7-9
“7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
The next couple of months are going to be a great adventure as we learn together what kind of legacy we want to leave and how to go about it.
In 1953 someone was born who would, after years of searching in all kinds of religions and philosophies, put his faith in Jesus Christ and became one of the most passionate followers of Jesus you will ever come across. His passion and his commitment to missions and reaching people for Jesus was gobsmacking. He became a pastor a prophetic voice in the church and a prolific songwriter. His message and music touched and transformed many lives, including mine, and I believe Jonathan’s.
In 1982, the plane he and two of his young children, 3yr old Josiah and 2yr old Bethany were taking off in crashed and they all died. One of the songs he had started writing his wife Melody completed and released the song in a tribute album.
When you look at the worksheet and the line from the cradle to the grave and imagine that it should span around 80 years, Keith Green didn’t live for 30 of them. And yet, and yet he left a legacy that still lives on. I read the following in another blog last week. Speaking of Keith Green this lady said
“I might not agree with every point of doctrine he held to, but I can sure say I’m thankful that this brother did what he did, with his time on this earth. That’s the kind of legacy I hope to leave for my own kids someday when it’s my time to go Home.”
The song I referred to is this one:
“If you’re planting for a year, plant grain. If you’re planting for a decade, plant trees. If you’re planting for a century, plant people.”