Posts Tagged ‘legacy’

by Robert Thompson

chair photo

In my years of ministry, I cannot count the number of times I have been contacted by someone who is suddenly facing an end-of-life health issue. It’s during these times when questions are asked such as, “What do I do? I wasn’t ready for this. Where can I go for help? I can’t afford a nursing home! What does Medicare pay for? How do I begin to make funeral arrangements? What does hospice mean? How can I cope? I’m told I need an Advance Directive. What is that?”

There are steps that can be taken now before the end of life issues must be faced. When beginning the process of planning for the end of life, I have found that there are two key words to focus on: preparation and choice.

calloutThe first word, preparation, involves organizing the information that will be essential when your life is coming to an end. And, it will make your death easier on those left behind who will carry out your wishes and desires. There are many resources available to help you plan, and one of the best and most comprehensive resources was developed by the Pastoral Care and Compassion Ministries of Richmond’s First Baptist Church. The manual, entitled For the Living of These Days…an end-of-life guide is a practical outline of decisions that will need to be made. It also includes information that will be essential such as contact information for those who will need to be notified, information that will be needed for the death certificate, and suggestions on governmental and financial institutions that will need to be contacted. The guide includes a section on legal documents that should be prepared now such as wills, trusts, power of attorney, and an advance directive for health care. Another section lists the important documents with space to record where these documents are kept. It even includes a section on planning your funeral or memorial service so that music that is special to you and Bible verses that have meaning for you can be included. By taking the time now to work through the manual, or something similar, all of the necessary details will be organized and documented.

The second word, choice, means that you have the opportunity now to decide what is important to you and how you want to be remembered, and to communicate those choices. Would you like to be remembered with flowers or would you prefer to be remembered through memorial gifts? Is there a ministry within the church that has been a meaningful part of your life? Are there people who are special to you who you would like to take part in your service? Taking the time now to think through what is important to you means that when the end comes, plans that are important to you can be put into action.

The good news is that you are still alive! Take advantage of the time you have. As Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a pioneer in the field of death and dying once wrote: “It’s not really the dying that is so hard, dying takes no skill and no understanding. It can be done by anyone. What is hard is living—living until you die; whether your death is imminent or a long way off…the real challenge is to fully live the time you have.” (Corr, pg. 13)

Be prepared; make good choices; live so you can echo the words of 2 Timothy 4:6-8: “The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge will award to me on that day and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”


Editor’s note: Consider your legacy. The 1780 Society is an option.

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Story and photos provided by Wendy Starkey.

Have you ever thought about your legacy, what sort of impact you will have on those in your life? How will you be remembered?

author and daughterNow that I have two young daughters, I’ve started to think of my legacy. Of course, the Lord willing, I want to leave them whatever worldly wealth I possess. But I also want to leave them intangible gifts – lessons learned, fun family memories, words of encouragement. And looking to the eternal, what type of Christian legacy will I leave imprinted on them?

calloutI have started to look at the Bible as a legacy. God, through Abraham, Moses, Ruth, David, and many more, has left a legacy for me. While I cannot add to the Bible, I can continue its legacy. It is a foundation I can build on by sharing how God has worked in my life.

To do that I have begun collecting ideas for intentionally creating my legacy.

A friend told me about a woman who lost her husband. To deal with her grief, she wrote about their life together. She included many examples of how God worked in their lives to redirect their paths, confirm their decisions, and make Himself known to them. I’m sure this was very therapeutic for her, but I believe it also increased her faith and has the potential to increase the faith of her family and friends. Part of my legacy will be found in the stories I tell and write about God being core to my family’s life together.

Starkey familyMany people have favorite Bible verses. Sharing these references and their personal significance is a wonderful legacy to leave and a way to fulfill God’s command in Deuteronomy 4:9, “Teach them to your children” (NIV). Recently, my daughter Mahaley and I were at the Goochland YMCA. The pool there has a wonderful slide, but for a six-year-old it can be a bit intimidating. I had the opportunity to whisper in her ear, “The Bible says, ‘For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength’ (Philippians 4:13, New Living Translation) and everything in the Bible is true.” Mahaley smiled and climbed the ladder to go down the slide without fear. When I share with my children God’s words that are important to me, I leave them a legacy useful in their everyday lives.

Another way to strengthen this legacy is taking the opportunity to share what Esther Burroughs calls “God stop” moments. A woman whose brother and son both died from a spinal disorder had another son. When he was born, he had a birthmark in the middle of his back over his spinal cord. While most people would only see a birthmark, this woman saw a sign from God saying “I remember your brother and son; I remember your pain.” If I were a member of her family, I would want to hear such a beautiful story of faith. And I want to tell my children every time God stops me in my tracks with a new understanding of how He is active in my life.

Many people dismiss the Bible as too old to have an impact on 21st century life. But continuing its story by sharing my story makes it current. By sharing my faith story I am bringing our family closer to God. That’s the legacy I want to leave.

Editor’s Note: Wendy has shared so powerfully about leaving a legacy for her children. Her story challenges us all to be intentional about leaving our legacy.

Do you have other ideas for ways to leave a legacy? Have you already started this process? If so, what have you done? Has someone left a legacy for you? Would you share it with us?

Please share your ideas, experiences or goals in the “Leave a reply” box below.

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