“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14, ESV)
My friend Eliza is a wife, a homeschooling mom of two boys, and manages a design business from home. In a busy season of life, her focus was often on time management and what to put on the dinner table. Balancing being a wife, mom and teacher proved to be overwhelming.
One evening, Eliza developed a fever from a tick bite that sent her into a tailspin of illness and a hospitalization that lasted 11 days. She developed a bloodstream bacterial infection and was placed in ICU.
With her health on the line, she came face to face with the fragility of life.
Thankfully she began to recover, and I went to visit her one day before she left the hospital. As I sat in the chair beside of her, I could tell something had changed in her spirit. “I just don’t want to live for the next thing in my life anymore,” she told me. She seemed energized, hopeful even, as she spoke.
Caught off guard, I pressed, “what does that mean Eliza?”
She didn’t hesitate to respond. “There’s more than just this fleeting life. There’s more than dinnertime woes and Anderson’s soccer games and my trying to figure out the correct discipline in every brotherly fight.” She sat upright and looked at me with fierce determination. “All of those things are important yes, but what about Kingdom work? I give so much focus to the here and now. When I’m gone, what will my boys remember of my life on this earth?”
I sat in silence, pondering her questions, feeling the prick of conviction in my own life.
She leaned in, seriously evaluating her words. “What are the truly important things they will strive to live for?”
We began to talk about Jesus’ ministry on earth. He comforted, healed, and performed miracles, but His ultimate work was to seek and save those that were lost. His focus was on the Kingdom.
My friend recovered with no complications, and is now back in her daily routine. However, her outlook on life has changed. She describes her near-death encounter: “it advanced the trajectory of my life from living in the here and now, to thinking about my Father’s work. I have decided who I want to become.”
How profound her words!
Her transformation prompted me to ask: who had I decided to become? She stirred something in me with the way she cultivated purpose from her life changing illness. I, too, want my life to be stewarded well for future generations.
Many of us desire to leave behind a godly legacy, but we question how. How do we cultivate our lives towards God’s kingdom, particularly if it’s never been modeled for us?
Here are a few suggestions for building a legacy:
- Stay near to God: In the Old Testament, it is amazing to see the closeness of Joshua’s relationship with God. He was raw and real with the Lord, and He knew what God desired of him because of the closeness of their hearts. He longs for intimacy with us. You will never regret building your life around the purposes of God.
- Reflection: Ask yourself the question “what would further the Kingdom of God?” in the little things and the big ones. It is no small feat to create a life that honors God. Intentionality in the little things will shine through because others can see the values you are instilling in your family. Be leery of making decisions that are convenient. It’s the day-in, day-out of watching you consult God in your decisions that will make a huge impact on how those around you view Him.
- Becoming Others-Focused: Modeling this behavior is key. Eliza began a family service project at their local nursing home to love on the elderly around them. Volunteer in service together; try different things where your family can stretch and grow. Make your home a local missions base and encourage random acts of kindness from your family every day. Become an example of someone who cares for those cast out by society.
- Use of time, talents, and treasure to advance God’s mission: Ask the question, “what do I want our family to be like?” Develop a vision for your family, with the input of everyone involved. Time: some of us may need to readjust the way we spend our time. Look at what you are focusing on. Your kids, spiritual mentees, friends, youth groups, and neighbors need your input. Don’t waste your time. Talent: we all have gifts. You could utilize them to teach or support your family. Use them for your church, for strangers, for the greater mission. Learn and cultivate your gifts. Don’t waste your talent. Treasure: consider all of your resources. Do your children see you as generous? Do you give out of the overflow of your heart? Don’t waste your treasures.
There is a bigger picture and higher purposes in life. Point others to Jesus. In whatever ways you are going about life, bring Him into it.
Be encouraged today that your work for His Kingdom is not in vain.
God has set you apart for the very purposes He has instilled in you. Watch in expectation as He works in your heart for the heritage you are leaving behind.
What type of legacy will your current lifestyle and choices lead to?