The older a person gets the more they tend to wonder what sort of a memory people will have of them. A legacy is something each of us should be mindful of, for the Psalmist says, “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with his children’s children – with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”
One of the practices I’ve developed over the years when I’m called upon to perform a funeral is to ask the family if I could look through the Bible of the person who has passed away. This can be a wonderfully enriching experience not only for me, but I tie it into my message at the funeral service.
Last fall I was asked to perform the funeral for the 90 year old mother of a good friend. I had the privilege of knowing this lady in her later years, and she was a true delight! But what a treasure trove I found when the family handed me not just one Bible, but four! Over the years this dear lady had several Bibles, and she had written thoughts and special occasions in each one. I was like a kid in a candy store! You see, a person will often jot down a Bible verse, or a saying, or insert something into the pages of their Bible that means something to them. Then there are those comments written in the margins of the pages in response to something they read from God’s Word.
I assimilated a number of these precious discoveries and shared them at the funeral service. You will frequently find the heart of the person expressed in these various writings – revealing what is most important to them. Perhaps a sick family member; or a rebellious grandchild who needs to surrender their life to Christ; or a natural disaster like an earthquake.
So, let me share with you some of these gems from this lady who had more than her share of challenges in life. But there is one thing that rings throughout her musings, and that is her love for Jesus. As a young woman she attended a revival meeting at a church in Oklahoma. She wrote, “As the congregation sang, ‘Just As I Am,’ I walked to the front of the church and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my heart and started a new life, leaving my past behind. That was March 10th, 1941 – I decided the old way of life no longer satisfied me.” She and her husband moved to California shortly after, paying .19 cents a gallon for gas!
Consider these insights shared by this woman of faith: “I choose to forgive those who hurt me today.” Wow! That says a lot about where her heart was. “Forgiveness is a full time job.” Makes you wonder what hurts she had experienced! “To be free from anxiety – pray and then thank God.” Yes! “When you don’t feel good, guard your mouth.” Sound advice and very Scriptural (See Psalm 141:3). “Only God can change your thought life.” Amen! “Jesus is saying, ‘Leave it alone.’” Good time to obey. “He will soothe the heart that is mourning and give comfort.” Indeed he will. “Whenever I miss you I just look in my heart and there you are.” What a wonderful thought! “Never surrender to fear.” (See 2 Timothy 1:7).
The remainder of the comments are a bit more lengthy but hold some deep truth. Concerning marriage issues: “The exhortations for the husband to love the wife and be concerned for her are strong. If these attitudes prevail and Christ is truly the Lord of each life and the center of the home – marriage and family can be a bit of heaven on earth.”
This one is her concern for a loved one who did not know Christ as their Savior: “As we pray for those individuals we hold dear, we must pray in faith knowing that God loves them and wants to save them even more than we do. We must commit them to God in faith.”
This next one was obviously special to her. “My husband prayed the prayer of repentance Saturday, March 12, 1983 with our pastor.”
I love this next one as it seemed so odd, but it made me laugh right out loud. “For vomiting and diarrhea, use Coca Cola syrup and prescription suppositories.” That brought a laugh during the funeral!
This last one was written in red ink and then highlighted. You will see the level of importance it held for this mother of four sons. “The Bible teaches that real love means letting your child suffer the consequences of his actions, regardless of what this might entail. Often this is the only thing that will work.”
As I concluded this sermon at the funeral I took a copy of my message and gave it to the family, for this lady left a wonderful legacy through the life she lived, and the thoughts she wrote in the pages of her Bibles.
What legacy will you leave?