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What Will Be Our Legacy?

Twenty years ago today my dad went home to be with the Lord. It was sudden and very unexpected. As comforting as it is to know that I will one day see him again, I still think about him and miss him every day, especially when I get a glimpse of him in my children.

A few days after his funeral I remember standing in my sister's living room, not sure how my life was going to return to normal after such a loss. I found out it never really does. You just adapt to a new ‘normal’, knowing that your dad would want you to carry on. I remember saying to my sister on that September morning, “I wonder how this loss will feel after he’s been gone twenty years?”

As I sit here now twenty years later, I can honestly say that I have a better understanding of my dad and the legacy he left on this earth. To this day I still run into people who knew my dad and how much he meant to them. I’ve heard stories of his intelligence, his service to others, but more importantly, I’ve heard about his heart of gold. One of those stories came from a friend of my dads who had asked him how he divides his love between 9 children (yes, I am the 8th of 9 kids!). My dad’s reply came without hesitation. He told this man, “You have the math all wrong. You don’t divide, you multiply.” My dad’s family is his greatest legacy. He sacrificed so much so that we could thrive in life. He owned his own business, supporting nine kids on his single income. It could not have been easy, but he never complained. My dad worked hard, but never missed a single event one of his kids was involved in. He was on the sidelines of every game and in the front row of every performance. His time and dedication to his family were his greatest legacy.

So that brings me to the question, "what will be our legacy to our families?" Society tries to convince us that having the latest and greatest is the best thing we can do for our kids. It is possible that the world's oldest juggling act is balancing time with our family and the need to work to provide for our family. Someone has said, “When we get to heaven and stand before God, it is not likely that we will say, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’” Regrettably, in this competitive world, we often err in the direction of working long hours. As I think about how I’ve balanced this in my life, I am reminded of a story I once read that really had an impact on me. I’m sure many of you are familiar with it but I’d like to share it for those who may not be.

“Okay, time for a quiz.” He pulled out a one-gallon, wide-mouthed Mason jar and set it on a table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen fist-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, into the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel. Then he dumped some gravel in and shook the jar causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was onto him. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied.

He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked the question, “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the class shouted. Once again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked up at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?”

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it!”

“No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point. The truth this illustration teaches us is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”[1]

My dad definitely put the big rocks into his jar first. Anything after that were just pebbles compared to his family. I would like to think that one day my kids will know that they are my top priority, that I love them unconditionally, and that I am their biggest fan.

In this world our children will be bombarded with pressure to be the best and to have the best. As parents we need to make sure we are training our kids to put love before earthly success, and people before promotion. But again I ask, “what will our legacy be?” I am reminded of the saying, “People won’t remember what you did for them but they will remember how you made them feel.” Let’s make it our mission to leave a legacy for our kids of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Let us be so in tuned to what God’s Word says that our kids will see us as a walking testimony to His faithfulness and everlasting love. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) May our legacy be so engrained in Christ that the things of this world pale in comparison.

[1] An internet message from John C. Holmes

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