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.


  1. Thank you for this interesting and thoughtful post, Marion. I can't help thinking that "leaving a legacy" in the sense in which you mean it, is something we cannot consciously control. We can only do our best, with integrity. As to what "the legacy" of London 2012 will be, the conversations we have been listening to on Newsnight (BBC2)indicate that no-one really knows. Human beings are so unpredictable, it is impossible to predict how people will respond in the future. I think you sum it all up very well in your last sentence. We can only "do what we can, where we can, by using whatever we have"... and then, as you say, "God will increase our giving a hundredfold".

  2. Yes I agree it is unpredictable. But perhaps as we conciously make choices, we can lay the foundations for the legacy we want to leave. After all the Olympians had to put in the hours of training. The coaches who run clubs for various sports, never know if any of the people they work with will be 'diamonds in the rough.'But they do it anyway and that is how new talent is discovered

  3. What comforts me is the idea that we are all links in a chain - and we never know who is on the end (well, one end, anyway. The other end is held by God, of course). Am I pushing this metaphor too far? I remember a friend showing me incredible kindness when I had a young family, and I said to her, 'I wish I could do something for you in return.' 'Don't worry,' she said. 'Someone did the same for me when I was in a similar position. I'm just passing it on. You can do it for someone else one day.' She was right. We never know who will be the ultimate beneficiary of what we do for God.

  4. Thankyou for this; I'm glad I found you. I would like to leave the world a slightly different place from the way it was before I came and I'm praying that God will show me what he wants me to do one step at a time. Every time I try to run ahead all on my own and do something that I see as 'important' it turns out to be a wrong turn.
    I like the story of the old lady and the boys who walked past her window. We may never know this side of heaven what difference we make.