An Enduring Legacy
If you have lost a parent or a grandparent to death, you’ve lost all the stories they didn’t tell you. You may look through an old photo album and realize you don’t know the names of some of your ancestors. You don’t know the occasion they’re celebrating. You don’t know the relationships, and there’s no recovery of those stories. Moreover, it may occur to you that all your stories will someday be gone, as well.
Joel 1:3 says, “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” Throughout Scripture, and through those followers of Christ who came before us, we see how just one believer can impact the spiritual path of multiple generations. We must tell the important, essential story of the gospel to our children and to our children’s children. We must tell our story of what the Lord has done in our lives. By doing so, we build up the body of Christ.
Consider this. Are you leaving a strong legacy of love, leadership and ministry for those who will come after you? How are you pouring into others today, so that future generations may come to know and serve the Lord? While we may say that we lead by example, we must also lead by instruction, by teaching and by remembrance. Our example is important. But it is limited. We need to speak.
Yes, we must tell our stories. We must also listen. What about the testimonies of other elders? Do you, and we as a church, seek spiritual wisdom from our elders? What are their stories? Have we asked them? What can they teach us?
As Christian believers, we also have a duty to remember. In Deuteronomy 11:18-19, we read, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Each year at Passover, Jewish children hear the biblical account told to them by their elders. Together, they remember God’s faithfulness and His rescuing power. Likewise, our stories of God’s powerful work in our lives, the memories we have to share with one another, are a vital part of our legacy.
So let us listen to the wonderful stories of our elders. Let us hold them in our hearts and remember them. And let us pass on our hard-won lessons to others, and so leave a legacy that endures.
By Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min., President