People talk a lot about presidential legacies, but have you ever thought about what kind of legacy you want to leave behind when your time here on earth is up?
Recently, my husband and I went to a brunch given in honor of some missionaries to Asia. Everyone there had been receiving newsletters and praying for the missionaries, and some had been supporting them financially. The missionaries were Korean American, and they were serving in east Asia. Christianity has become very popular in south Korea, but the wife told us about her great grandmother, a North Korean, who had been the first in the family to become a Christian through the ministry of missionaries in the early days to the Korean peninsula, and also about her grandmother, who had been a big influence in her life.
As I looked around the room, I realized that the legacies of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were sitting all around me. The hostess of the brunch and her sister were recipients of a great family legacy: their grandparents had been missionaries in China until Communism chased them out. Another friend’s parents had wanted to be missionaries to China, but when that door closed, they had turned their attention to Japan and spent many, many years serving there.
Once home in Seattle, they and their families were all active in their local church. The missionaries to Japan have prayed for my own daughter for over a decade as her “prayer partners.” What a gift! (Speaking of that daughter, she just applied for her major–in theology!) And, thinking back on it, their witness to me when I was a teenager at summer camp was probably a factor in my decision to go to Japan after graduate school, even though I didn’t “connect the dots” at the time.
My own great-grandparents came to the United States and raised their children, my grandparents, in the Christian faith, who then raised their daughter, my mom, in the Swedish Pietistic tradition of the Evangelical Covenant Church. I’m so grateful for the example of all of these people in my life, and those around me in the circle of friendship and mission that shared coffee and goodies last Saturday morning.
It seems like when you have such a legacy to draw from, it makes the reach toward God somehow shorter and easier. I feel deeply for people whose reach is made perhaps more difficult by family legacies that drew them in a different direction. However, Psalm 145:18 assures all who seek God that “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.”
During the darkest days of my writing life, when all the Christian publishers for my novel told me to look for a mainstream publisher, and the mainstream publishers asked if I had tried Christian publishers, and it truly looked like the novel would never see print, Jeff asked me a simple question: What would it be worth to you if you had a story from one of your great-grandparents–a story that revealed something of their heart for God and for people?
My mind flashed to a time when I had discovered a cookbook in my grandparents’ attic that one of my relatives had hand-written. It was so cool, and that was just a cookbook! To find a story that revealed their faith?
“That would be priceless,” I answered.
“So relax,” Jeff told me. “You’ve already done it. Let God worry about the publishing game.”
I don’t know what kind of a legacy might arise from my simple little story, but I do know that Jeff helped me a lot that day. All I really needed to worry about was being faithful.
May all of our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren be able to say that they are blessed because of the legacy we hand down to them!
“And in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18).