On Legacies – and an “Inheritance Incorruptible and Undefiled”

In the past few months some of my closest neighbours have sadly died and one day just recently I started to reflect on the possessions that these people have left behind. Cars, houses, land, property, livestock… Then I began to think about what I had to leave, if I should suddenly pass away… very little indeed, in the material sense, by this world’s standards!

Nevertheless, a long time ago I remember someone say that when each one of us dies, we will each leave a legacy…. This legacy can be a litany of negative and bitter memories – but it can also be a legacy of immense value in the spiritual sense. Will I be remembered as a sincere and genuine servant of the Lord, who has laboured for Him during my short sojourn here – or will I be remembered for being someone who was constantly argumentative, impatient or even bad-tempered? Praise God for His deliverance and for His strength in our daily lives, making the former a great possibility! “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 7v25)

This week I remember my father who passed into the Lord’s Presence exactly one year ago. I remember how he encouraged us, as children, to learn Bible verses and how he was a special witness to his own loved ones, including all his eleven grandchildren.

“Grandad loved that tree,” my youngest daughter told me one afternoon as we walked in a beautiful glen close to our home, “and he sat just where you are sitting right now, telling me all about trees and how they shed their barks as the branches grow thicker… I wish he could have lived to camp in the glen sometime with us, as he once said he would like to. He was such fun and we loved him so much…”

I nodded silently, as we sat staring for a long time at the spreading oak tree, its magnificent branches still bare from the winter, but soon they would be in full leaf again… and then I remembered Psalm 1, which my father ensured that we all learned by heart many years ago.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so; but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away, Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgement, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

Knowing this psalm by heart; not only knowing it, but being encouraged to love it – is my father’s great legacy to me.

Lower down in the valley we could hear some unusual birdsong and then we watched a squirrel scurry swiftly up one of the mossy branches, climbing so high that he was no longer visible.

“Have you visited Grandad’s grave recently?” my daughter asked me and I shook my head sadly, signifying that I hadn’t. “Anyway, he’s not there,” I replied. “He’s higher than that squirrel, higher than the tree, higher than the sky…”

“I know…” was the quiet reply.

Memories of my father’s witness to his own grandchildren came flooding back to me and then I remembered the text on his farmyard wall, as pictured above. Yes, we can leave a rich and wonderful legacy of memories, even tangible memories; ones that can speak to our loved ones, neighbours and even visiting strangers, long after we have gone to possess our own incorruptible inheritance…

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