What will remain when you’re gone?

three children and man at the beach

The best memories of my childhood took place in a greenhouse right around the corner from my own home. My grandparent’s house. 

Memories of catching lightning bugs in their yard on humid August evenings. Sleep-overs in their guest room with the best thick shakes and countless rounds of Skip-bo. Pot Roast dinners around their table on Sunday afternoons, with my Grandma’s famous homemade gravy. 

Yes, as a child, going to my grandparent’s house was always special. Not because of what they had, but simply because they were there. 

My Grandpa had a woodshop in his garage and I used to love watching him work. Mostly, because I could always convince him that my Barbie dolls needed a new bed or couch. I can still imagine him putting aside the cabinets he was working on to measure my dolls and make their furniture for me.

My Grandma was always in her kitchen. She made the best grilled cheeses sandwiches for lunch and would give me a cold glass of her homemade iced tea to wash them down. For dessert, she always had freshly baked cinnamon bread or crumb cakes.

Just thinking of those days makes me nostalgic. My mother’s parents have both been gone for years now, but the memories I have of them while I was growing up will last a lifetime. More than leaving me with wonderful memories, my grandparents both left a wonderful Christian legacy.

A legacy, or something left behind when a person dies, can be different things for different people. For rich or famous people, it may be a large sum of money, a mansion, or even an estate. Others may simply leave behind some of their treasured jewelry or keepsakes. Sometimes, the legacy one leaves has nothing to do with possessions at all. For example, Mother Teresa lived in poverty most of her life but left behind a legacy of service and love for those in the slums of Calcutta.

Many will argue that leaving behind great wealth means you were more successful in your life than leaving a simple legacy of service.If that’s the case this is what could be said of me at the end of my life:

M. J. was a wife and mother. She lived in El Salvador, a poor third world country, and often struggled to make ends meet. She leaves behind nothing of value.

However, God’s word tells us something different.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:26

Christians are called to live a life that shines, or speaks to others about the love of Jesus, and brings glory to God. That being said, I would hope my legacy would read more like this:

M. J. was a loving wife. She stood by her husband no matter what and prayed for him often. She loved her kids and did all she could to teach them about Jesus and guide them in the truth. She leaves behind no money or estate, but a legacy of faith in God and a life lived striving to serve Him in all she did. 

Thankfully, our value is not based on how much is in our bank account, but what Jesus did for us on the cross! 

My grandparents not only knew this but lived it. They spent much of their free time involved in activities at our church, and volunteering at the Christian school I attended as a kid. Both my grandpa and grandma lived lives that shined for Jesus daily. Everyone they met knew they were kind people but also knew they lived the way they did because they loved the Lord.

It’s great to be remembered as someone who lived for Christ after you’re gone, but I want to start making my mark now! Like my grandparents, my desire is for people to see me as a shining light today and to be known as someone who loves the Lord while I’m still living, not just after I’ve passed away.

If this year has taught us anything, it’s that things don’t always go as planned. Life is unpredictable, and sometimes we don’t get to do the things we think we’ll be able to. That’s why I want to begin building my legacy now! A legacy for the Lord.

How about you?

What do you want people to say when they talk about you? What will your legacy be? One of earthly riches or one of Heavenly riches?

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