A Prayer for Legacy
Time seems to fly as we get older. Science has demonstrated that the brain’s internal clock runs more slowly as we age, which means the pace of life appears to speed up.
Catherine Booth and her husband, General William Booth, started the Salvation Army. She said,
“There’s no improving the future unless you disturb the present.”
So many people remain stuck because they are unwilling to disturb the present. The psalmist prayed similarly:
Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. — Psalm 90:10-12, NIV
The Message translation of verse 12 says,
Oh! Teach us to live well!
Teach us to live wisely and well! — Psalm 90:12, MSG
What is Legacy?
“I want to so live that God doesn’t have to give me one minute’s notice to step out of time into eternity.” — Leonard Ravenhill
Every day that God gives us is a gift.
We like to count forward. There’s an excitement leading up to a vacation or a new baby, etc. But we don’t like to count backwards. We don’t like to count down the vacation days that are over.
The psalmist prays that God would teach us how short our lives are, so that we can become wise.
In a survey of people 90+ years old, the elderly answered what they would have done differently and three things came up over and over:
- I would reflect more.
- I would risk more.
- I would do more things that would live on after me.
“When it comes time to die, make sure all you got to do is die” — Jim Elliot
- Giving your obedience to longevity.
- The future without you, but still influenced by you life.
- Doing something to outlive you.
Resume vs Eulogy
We are too often concerned with creating a resume, rather than building a eulogy. A resume gets me a job or an interview, but a eulogy is what people say about my life when it’s over. And no one reads a resume in a eulogy. No one is going to talk about your money or your 401k or your career path.
A resume is what you did. A eulogy is who you are. The eulogy determines your legacy.
The decisions we make to build a eulogy are harder. They don’t look great on paper; they’re about other people.
Working on your eulogy means:
- Fighting for things that matter.
- Live for conditions that you are willing to die for.
- Sacrifice good things in favor of the best things.
Building a legacy and being remembered mean doing the hard things. Because the things that you do for yourself will be gone when you’re gone, but the things you do for others create legacy. It’s okay to have nice things. This isn’t about feeling guilty about it, but focus on building legacy.
How to Number Your Days to Build a Legacy
Here a few things to remember in order to number your days, like the psalmist prayed, and leave a legacy.
1. Life is Fast.
Yet you do not know [the least thing] Lit Who do not.about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air]. — James 4:14, AMP
It feels like we have our whole lives ahead of us – especially when we’re young. But it’s not.
“Death is the sound of the distance thunder at a picnic.” — Bill Bright, The Long Journey Home
Everything is relative, and when it comes to time, the true comparison is eternity. And your 80 years is a vapor compared to eternity.
2. Life Can Be Wasted.
Seasons or an entire life can be wasted. Once it’s spent, you cannot get it back.
All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him. — 2 Samuel 14:14, NLT
You have 70 years—80 if you’re lucky—so savor. Every. Moment.
3. Life is Not Your Own.
We like to say that everything belongs to God, but it’s not just about your money or your possessions. Your life is God’s.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV
You are twice Gods: He created you, and then he bought you back and redeemed you.
We talk about being stewards of what is God’s, but are we stewards of our days and our time? A simple definition of sin is that it is living life on my own terms, with no regard for my Creator or my Redeemer.
If you are reading this, congratulations: You have another chance to start numbering your days and leaving a legacy.
Numbering Our Days
When a family has a baby, they have 842 weekends with that child before he or she turns 18. Pastor Scott and Noeleen’s oldest boy is seven years old; they have about 486 weekends left. If you have a 16 year-old at home, say he/she is home 80% of weekends (which, let’s be real, is generous)—that’s 73 weekends left.
We have to learn to not let the time slip by.
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. — Ephesians 5:15-16
Teach us, O Lord, to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Photo cred: Loic Djim