YOUR LEGACY

Have you ever thought about your funeral, or what people will be saying about you on that day?  It may seem like a morbid and depressing thought.  Maybe for some, it feels like something far off that needn’t be worried about now.  But it was a thought many of us were challenged to think about this past Sunday.

I have to be honest, at twenty-three, my funeral (let alone my eulogy!) is not something I’ve often thought about.  Yet we’re faced with an eye opening truth: our eulogies are in fact being written right now.  So what kind of legacy are you leaving behind?  I think it’s safe to say that most people want to be remembered for good things like being kind, caring, and loving.  I know those are all things I want!   Some more specific answers popped into my head pretty quickly, too.  There are many things I strive for, but one in particular is to be a person of godly character. This is especially tough to live out; for example, when I was driving home from a sermon and reacted to another driver in a not so Christ-like way.  (And ironically Josh had even talked about reacting nicely to people while driving!  Epic Fail on my part!)  So the question we would do well to contemplate is, “What am I doing now to ensure how I am remembered when I am gone?”

The past two months we have been looking at the life of Joseph and we finally got to see him at the end of his life; as God’s finished work of art.  And what we found is nothing short of  one of God’s glorious masterpieces. Joseph’s life is a shining example of what it looks like to be living in the “now” but also for the future.

We can clearly see this in a choice he made after his father died.  Joseph was the second most powerful man in all Egypt.  He could have gone unchecked and taken justifiable revenge on his brothers without the worry of what his father would think.  That was exactly what his brothers thought and they were afraid.   But as we know that is not how it happened.  His response was amazing:

‘But Joseph replied, ‘Don’t be afraid of me.  Am I God, that I should punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.  He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.  No, don’t be afraid.  I will continue to take care of you and your children.’  So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.’ (Genesis 50: 19-21).

How amazing is that? Talk about Godly character and wanting to leave a great legacy, even after he had been wronged in such horrific ways.  I genuinely hope that one day I can have even an ounce of that kind of mercy and compassion.  I sit here and think of how many times have I mistreated someone just because I took offense to something they said.  Or waited until it suited me to show forgiveness to someone.  The list can go on and on.    The point is: it’s not enough to say how you want to be remembered.   You have to put it into action and live it out because how you live now is how you will be remembered.  You eulogy is bring written now; don’t wait until the last couple days of your life.

When I think about the legacy I want to leave it’s not so different from Joseph’s. However when I look at how I live life, I can get discouraged.  I would much rather be God’s finished work than take all the steps to get there.  But like every legacy, it does not happen overnight.  The person Joseph was when he spoke so kindly and reassuringly to his brothers did not happen in just a couple years; but several!  The person God molded him into was a lifelong process.  Joseph saw that and we should too.  Being aware of that process can give us comfort in knowing that we are all a work in progress and will continue to be until the day we die.  But we also need to see how our behavior and choices in this moment can greatly affect the legacy we leave behind.

So thinking about your eulogy can be depressing, but only if you let it.  The same God who had his hand over Joseph is the same God who has his hand over you and me. No matter your age or how bad you’ve messed up, God can wipe our slates completely clean and make us new.  It’s a long process, but one worthwhile.

‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ (Ephesians 2:10)

Remember, your legacy and eulogy is being written right now!


(null).jpgKatrina McElvain is the daughter of Trisha, and eldest of her siblings Grace and JP.  She loves spending time with family and friends, watching movies, dancing, and writing.  She teaches dance at night and is a teacher’s aide by day.  She also loves Immanuel and listening to the sermons every Sunday morning.

BEING SOUGHT

A few years ago, I called my grandmother, seeking her advice and her listening ear on a most difficult matter. Funny thing it is, I don’t remember the most difficult matter or what exactly she said but I remember the feeling of being in over my head at the beginning of the call and feeling like I finally had ground beneath my feet by the end of it.

During that conversation, I shared with her how grateful I was to have her in my life – an older wiser woman who could weigh in with her experience wisdom and love. How priceless, I told her.

It was then that she said something that’s stuck with me: “Yes, she said. That’s the hardest thing about being the oldest generation she said; you dearly miss having someone with that kind of wisdom and experience.”

That perspective, it changed me. It helped me realize the very beautiful gift of having someone who could walk beside me, listening, asking perplexing questions and then placing in my hands gems of truth about life, like small diamonds that were excavated from the intensely hard and rocky places of life and then lovingly shared.

While for a long while, this perspective fueled me to seek out older, wiser people in the older generations with whom to be in relationship, it wasn’t until recently that I realized the life-giving beauty of not only seeking but also in being sought.

God gave me a teenage daughter last year. Talking about placing gems in my hands, this child is among the most precious.

Through her and our developing relationship as mother and daughter, I’ve also come to know the joy of giving pieces of my own hard-fought for wisdom to another who is collecting experiences along the rugged path of the teenage years.

And in that giving of myself and my gems of wisdom about life to her, I have come to understand the value of not only giving but also listening to her and seeing life through her perceptive eyes. There is gift in this, too.

This past Sunday, the ever-emerging theme of story came roaring to the forefront of my mind as I pieced together these unique life experiences of hearing and being heard, and I remembered anew that each of us is a living story God is writing as a piece of His greater story.

If that isn’t enough to slow us to a more careful amble rather than a full-force brisk step during interactions, I’m not sure what would.

What if we approached each other as such?

How would that change the way we listen, the way we respond, the way we work together?

If we really believed we were a part of one body, how would that play out in our everyday lives?

For me, it would look like slowing down, letting go of my own agenda, really listening instead of only hearing and then taking note of the holy ground into which I stepped before opening my mouth to speak.


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Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and two girls and author of Undercover Mother. 

FREEING HEARTS

Forgiveness is much easier said than done. But you wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?

Listen, if it was easy to forgive someone, life would be a breeze. But – reality check – it’s not. In fact, it is a difficult thing… a really difficult thing. When someone hurts us, we want them to know we’re hurt, right? We want other people to validate our feelings, all while we put conditions on our forgiveness. We will forgive, but only once we feel the other person is truly sorry. Once they’ve made it unmistakably clear that they know what they have done and are never going to do it again, then we forgive. Sounds a lot like Jesus, huh?

I think being the forgiver gives us a false sense of power over the forgiven because it’s all done on our time, our pace, once we, the Great Forgiver, have healed emotionally. Or we tend to draw out the process of forgiveness, telling ourselves constantly, “I’m just not in a place to forgive them yet.” The reality of it is, though, we really don’t have the power we think we do. God calls us to forgive freely, not to hold things in our hearts until we feel like it.

Mark 11:25 says “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

When we hold grudges, it only brings an emptiness into our lives. Often times, the other person doesn’t even know about what we’re holding onto, or they don’t know how they can help. Maybe they feel they’ve done all they could do and now it’s on us to take the next step. But if we are still waiting for them to feel remorse, nothing gets better; we only get more bitter.

“Bitterness leads to emptiness, forgiveness leads to wholeness.”

Forgiveness frees not only their hearts, but ours as well.


Gracie Adamek attends the College of Lake County and hopes to one day be a special education teacher. She likes to sing, act, knit, and write. She hopes you enjoy your time here, reading these blogs, and is very grateful for the opportunity to glorify God through her words

INTEGRITY IN THE SMALL STUFF

Years ago, I was camping with my in-laws. Like many campgrounds, the road connecting all the campsites was one big loop. Unfortunately, our particular campsite was just left of the entrance/exit on the one-way road, which meant that every time we had to drive up to the store to get ice or wood (which, I found, is every five minutes when you camp!) we had to veer right and go around the entire 10 mph loop when all we had to do was pull in the wrong way for a split second and we’d be there. Talk about annoying.

My father-in-law drove on one of the umpteen trips up to the store, and as we turned to the entrance to the loop my mother-in-law suggested he just turn left into the campsite since no one was coming from the other direction. A quick but technically rule-breaking maneuver. I wholeheartedly agreed with her suggestion but watched as he turned right to go around the loop the right way, the long way. I’ll admit, I totally rolled my eyes.  I’m not proud of that. I’m just being honest.

I’ve thought of that loop several times since it happened and what it said about me and my father-in-law.  Just as a little gray paint dilutes the brightness of a color, a little gray in our ethics dilutes our impact in this world, even when it’s as small as driving the 10mph loop the right way. Integrity matters, even in the small stuff.

Every time I choose to do what the Bible says is the right thing to do, there is more of a contrast between the life I live and world around me.  And each time I make a decision to be like the world, I blend in a little more.  If you asked me if I could choose any color to be there are many I would choose, but gray wouldn’t be one.

Join me in praying this prayer this week as we choose to stand on God’s word no matter how big or small the decision, no matter where we are, no matter what the cost and no matter who is watching:

Father, You know the true content of my heart though others may be fooled by my words and actions. So it is with You that I must keep a short account and pray from a genuine heart that I will act in accordance to Your revealed will and think upon those things which are honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Thoughts form in my mind before they are spoken from my mouth, so I pray that You would purify my mind, keep my tongue from evil, and enable me to stand for that which is honorable in Your sight so that I pass the tests of life and hear you say, “I am pleased with your integrity.” In the name of Jesus I pray.  Amen.


 

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Martha has been a wife for 17 years and is the mother of three children ages 10, 9 and 5.  When she’s not folding laundry, c
ooking meals, helping with homework, kissing boo-boos, grocery shopping, cleaning house and running errands; she loves to hold babies at Immanuel MOPS!