It seems the older I get, the faster time seems to go by. It seems like Christmas arrives earlier and earlier every year. When you are young, a lot of time seems to pass from one Christmas to the next. But when you are older, it seems significantly less. This is probably because we are still paying for Christmas months afterward, not to mention preparing for it months before.
Also, there are those telltale signs that you are getting old. That little gray-haired lady you are helping across the street is your wife. Your little black book only contains names ending in M.D. You dim the lights for economic reasons, not romantic ones. Your back goes out more than you do. And you notice that your children are starting to look middle-aged.
The thought of aging is difficult for my generation of baby boomers because we sang “Forever Young” as one of our anthems. We celebrated our youth, so it is hard for us to let go of it. Our parents’ generation, the greatest generation, as they have been called, is now passing on. Meanwhile, we baby boomers are aging. Some of us have entered retirement. And a good many of us are in denial. Yet we cannot stop the inevitable march of time. This is why we should be thinking about what we are leaving behind. What kind of legacy will we leave for the next generation?
The Bible tells the story of a man named Elijah, a faithful representative of God. He had done the work that God had given him to do, but it was time for him to move on and to choose his successor. He chose a man with a name very similar to his: Elisha. But when it was time for Elisha to accept his new responsibility, he essentially said to Elijah, “Let me kiss my mother and father goodbye, and then I will follow you.”
In so many words, Elijah told him to go home to his parents. He was saying, “Count the cost, Elisha. If you don’t understand the significance of this, the importance of this, if you have other things in your life you think are more important, then maybe you are not ready.”
This sounds a lot like the man in the New Testament who said to Jesus, “Lord, I will follow You, but first let me say goodbye to my family.”
“Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the kingdom of God,” Jesus told him. He knew it was only a plea for more time. He knew that once the man went to say goodbye, he would never leave. Have you ever tried to leave a family reunion early? After two more pieces of pie and saying goodbye to Uncle Harry and kissing Aunt Flora, another hour has passed. Sometimes it’s just easier to slip out.
Jesus did not mean that one should not have close relationships with parents and family. The idea was that if you say to God, “Let me first do this before I will follow You,” it always will be something.
That is essentially what Elijah was saying as well: “Look, if you’re not up for this, Elisha, if you are not ready for this, then go home. But if you want to follow me, this is your opportunity. It is time to take the step.” And so Elisha did.
Elijah recognized that before he left, he needed to pass on his legacy. In the same way, we all have been given a legacy to pass on. It may be a good legacy. It may be a poor legacy. But you will pass on a set of values. You will pass on a life that was lived. You will say, “This is what mattered to me,” and people will reflect on that. They will be inspired by it. Others might be discouraged by it, depending on what kind of legacy you leave. Are you living a life that is worth emulating?
You don’t know when your life will end. You don’t know whether death will come a little sooner than you thought it would. You may make it to age 90 or 100. Or you may not. That is up to God.
If you were to die, would you go to heaven? It is not enough to know about God. You need to know God in a personal way. Is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, living in your heart and life? He went to the cross and died there for every sin you have ever committed. He paid the price for them and, in your place, took the full force of God’s judgment upon himself. Then He rose again bodily from the grave three days later. He is standing at the door of your life, and He is saying that if you will hear His voice and open the door, He will come in.
We can’t stop the aging process. We can’t turn back the clock. But we can make sure we are living our lives so we can pass on a legacy – the legacy of a life.
Note: Greg Laurie will be speaking in Wellington, New Zealand, Oct. 26-28 for a Harvest event. For more info, go to www.harvest.org.