Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Leaving a Legacy

It’s over! Well nearly! Slowly the excitement of the Olympic Games is dying away, and the question that all of the great and the good seem to be asking is ‘Will the Games leave a legacy?  Will all the positive feelings and excitement translate into a fitter  nation, where talented children get the opportunity to do sport at the highest level and everyone else has the opportunity to take part?’ At the moment we have no way of knowing, but it has set me thinking about the legacy that I would like to leave.

One of my favourite modern worship songs talks about ‘serving the Kingdom of God in my generation,’ and ‘giving my life, for something that will last forever’ – the question is   … what will that be?

 As a writer, I hope that my words will linger in the minds of some of my readers, and perhaps make a difference to the way that they live or serve God. It’s like tossing a stone into a pond. The ripples spread outwards and you have no idea how far they will spread.

 Ethel and I started a coffee morning to share our faith with our neighbours.  Many  good things came out of that five years. People were encouraged and strengthened in their spiritual journey, but, as far as I know, no one met Jesus for the first time.So I was thrilled when I read a review of my book ‘What Me Lord?’ I wrote it because other people caught the vision of using their homes for evangelism, and I was asked to write about how we had done it. The lady who had written the review hadn’t even bought the book, but found it in the library. She was excited and challenged by the ideas it contained and gathered some friends to begin a coffee morning in her village.

A number of people came to faith over the years that she opened her home to her neighbours, including her husband. Then she moved and left her friends to carry on what she had begun, while she started again in her new area. The she moved again  I met her when she invited me to speak to the third group she’d formed – she had cancer and died a few months later, but what a legacy she left behind her! And I had a small share in that legacy, even if it was once removed.

So how do you create a legacy? A successful writer in the USA, Cec Murphy, gives hundreds of dollars away each year to allow beginning writers to go to a writer’s conference. Other experienced writers invest time in helping the less experienced put their dreams into words. But of course it isn’t just writers who leave a legacy. We all leave something behind us – the question is will it be for good or for ill?

 As I watch children passing our house on their way to school I’m reminded of the elderly lady who prayed for a group of teenaged boys who scuffled their way to a school near her home. One of them was George Verwer, a teenager who came to faith and a within a short time started Operation Mobilisation . This organisation now  has 6.100 people working in 110 countries reaching out to people through literature, the creative arts, relief and development work, and so many other ways, to tell people how their lives can be changed when they meet Jesus.

One elderly lady. I wonder if she felt that there was little she could do?  Maybe she was housebound. I’m not sure if she ever knew what her prayers had been the foundation for. But she did what she could, where she could, by using whatever she had. And God increased her giving a hundredfold.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Digging ditches

I’m not much of a one for digging in the garden. A combination of a creaky back acquired from heavy lifting in my working life as a physiotherapist [no slings to move the patients around in those days] and our heavy clay soil, makes it a daunting task.

So I have a lot of sympathy for the soldiers in 2 Kings chapter 3. The three kings whom they served had taken them on a route march through the wilderness in order to creep up on the King of Moab. But after seven days of trudging through the sandy wastes, they arrived at their destination to find that the river had dried up and there was no water for the men or their animals. It was a very uncomfortable place to be.

Wisely, one of the kings consulted the prophet Elisha and was told that the soldiers were to dig ditches in the river bed. And although they wouldn’t hear wind or see rain, by the morning the ditches would be filled.

I wonder what the soldiers thought of that idea. Dig ditches? What with? They could have said that they didn’t have the tools, didn’t know about the technology of ditch digging in sand, and anyway it wasn’t what they were trained for. Whatever they thought, they had to get on with the job, and next morning the ditches were indeed full of water.

If we take on any task for God, it can seem as if we’re marching through the wilderness without a sign of obvious progress. It’s easy to doubt and ask ourselves if the enemy is going to get the upper hand. Like many other writers I’ve asked ‘who reads blogs?’ ‘How can I get my new book to the people for whom it’s intended, in a world where there are thousands of competing titles? God has said to me, ‘Dig ditches. If you will do the basic work required, I will fill them with water.

Have you had a ‘How on earth do I do this Lord?’ moment recently? If you feel that you’re stuck in the ‘Help! what do I do now wilderness’ ask God how you should go about digging the ditches to receive the water of His blessing, and then stand back and watch Him provide. Perhaps you’ve already done that. If so I’d love to hear about it.