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LEAVING A LASTING LEGACY (published in The North Weld Herald/Voice 1/10/13)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:18 PM by Fccea Webmaster
So Ole died, and Lena went to place an obituary. When asked how she wanted it to read she replied, "Just put 'Ole died.'" The clerk protested, "But you were married 50 years, had a big family and happy life. Surely you want more. The first five words are free." Lena said, "Okay, put down, 'Ole died. Boat for sale.'"

I wonder how many of us have considered what legacy we will leave. We'd probably like it to be more lasting than, "Boat for sale."

When it comes to things that last, few can compare to the claim of Jesus when He said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Matt 24:35). A life based on God's Word inevitably leaves a permanent legacy in many ways.

It leaves a legacy of extraordinary love. Jesus summarized the whole teaching of the Bible in these words: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:37-39). Imagine the legacy of a life dedicated to that kind of love for God and others.

It leaves a legacy of faith. We are assured, "The righteous shall live by faith" (Rom 1:17). Faith in God's Word is never a blind faith, for there are good and credible reasons for believing in God, much like we believe in electricity because we can see its results, though we cannot see the thing itself.

It takes faith to believe in a God who cannot be seen. It takes faith to believe that God took on flesh in the person of Christ. It takes faith to believe that forgiveness of sin is available on the basis of Jesus' death in our place. It takes faith to follow God's commands when it goes against the grain of our culture. And it takes faith to do what is right when there is no immediate benefit in sight.

But those who live a life of faith testify to the peace of mind and confidence of spirit that such a life brings. And the legacy to those around is immeasurable.

A life based on the Word also leaves a legacy of hope. The Bible promises eternal life to those who believe in Christ. Jesus said in John 5:24, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life." Wouldn't anyone want to leave that kind of hope behind for their loved ones when they leave this life?

Isn't the start of a new year a good time to think about what kind of legacy we are going to leave? Wouldn't we want to leave one of permanent value? If we're not satisfied with our current legacy, it's never too late to change.

In 1888 Alfred Nobel got a chance few of us get. He got to read his obituary before he died. His brother Ludwig died, but somehow the paper mixed things up and wrote an obituary on Alfred.

The obituary was headlined, "The Merchant of Death is Dead", and it went on to document his life as a Swedish chemist who had made his fortune inventing and producing dynamite. Perhaps it was unfair, but the obituary described a man who had gotten rich helping people kill one another.

Shaken by this appraisal of his life, Nobel resolved to change his legacy. When he died eight years later, he left more than $9 million to fund awards for people whose work benefitted humanity -- awards that became known as Nobel Prizes.

Legacies can be changed. It's a good time to evaluate whether or not we will leave anything of lasting value. The best way I know to do that is to build a life on that which will never pass away. Such a life will never be wasted. And the legacy will be permanent.

Dave McNeff is pastor of the First Congregational Church of Eaton/Ault