Long before everything went digital, we recorded sounds to be played back on magnetic tape that ran between two small reels. It was the place to store data, which generally was of some importance.
I remember finding an old cassette tape from years ago and hoping it held some great treasure – a beloved voice from the past; something to stir my memories and take me back. The tape was labeled -“Family Memories”. As I excitedly played the tape I realized it was blank – it held nothing. I frantically hit fast forward and would click ON, but it was blank all the way from beginning to end. I remember feeling so disappointed. I wondered if anything had ever been recorded on it and time had erased its sound, or if simply there truly never was anything recorded there.
I do NOT want this to be the story of my life!
I do NOT want my children or grandchildren (and generations to come) to wonder and wish that I had left something valuable behind, only to find a blank tape.
“One generation shall praise Your works to another.” (Psalm 145:4) This speaks of leaving behind truth for those who follow behind. This makes me shudder really, wondering if I will leave behind more than pictures of myself and facebook posts and favorite possessions.
This has led me to think what do I want there to be on the cassette tape of MY life, so it is not left blank.
If my story is full of mistakes and failures and regrets, I can still keep that tape rolling as I continue to walk out my life and not give up. I can learn from the errors of my way and correct them. I can learn to forgive those who’ve hurt me, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I can leave words of guidance and sound advice. I can teach tried and true life lessons. I can be a light in the dark, a voice shattering the silence, a song in the night and a refuge in the storm. Only if I stop, will my cassette tape fade away or even run blank. Only if I stop.
If we are silenced by our fears or our failures, and we prematurely end our story, then so much is lost for those we leave behind us. There is an old song I used to love by Steve Green – ‘Find Us Faithful’ –
“Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us run the race, not only for the prize, but as those who’ve gone before us. let us leave to those behind us,
the heritage of faithfulness, passed on through godly lives.”
I don’t even think it should be a choice. I think maybe we could be tougher or more resilient against the hardness of life, if we understood it is more a responsibility to be and stay faithful.
When we produced our documentary ‘Shattered Silence’ we were privileged to interview many precious Veterans of war. One man who has always stood out to me, had been a POW for several years during the Vietnam War. He said how he survived the loneliness, the boredom, the sameness, the isolation – was the knowledge that he had to get back home to his family. He said, “That was my responsibility in those days, as I saw it.” He survived his incredible hardship by simply taking responsibility for his own survival, for the sake of those he loved. Wow. Let that sink in. “In our own fight for survival we must fight to survive, taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions, so that out of the darkness we will RISE to our true potential.” – ‘Shattered Silence’/Joseph Channell THIS is how we leave a legacy.
Yes, sometimes I would rather fade into obscurity than to plow my way through yet another trial of this life. Sometimes I am just tired. Then I remember that my life is not my own; we live for others. Or we should. There lies the responsibility that makes boys into men. I will not disappear. I will not shut down. I will not fade into oblivion. I will not be silenced. I WILL make my life something to be read by all men, a story that gives God the glory and helps future generations find their way.
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.” (Proverbs 13:22) This is not just about leaving a will and leaving money for everyone; it it more about leaving an inheritance of godly character. Leave behind a legacy of integrity, trustworthiness, honor, wisdom, motivation, kindness, courage, generosity, humility and valor. You will have to fight to make this happen; it is not for the faint of heart – it takes resolve and a constant choosing to own up to your life. No, we are not perfect – the story is NOT about the perfection; it is about the journey itself.
Your legacy – that tape filled with the sounds of your life; it begins in the corners and reservoirs of your heart. It is recording your journey as you march on and never ever stop. “How blessed is the man who fears the Lord and who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants (those who come behind you) will be MIGHTY on earth. The generation of the upright shall be BLESSED.” (Psalm 112:1-2)
I do not want my great grandchildren to find an old cassette tape of their great grandmother and walk away disappointed that it was blank. I want my life to be a love letter for the ages. I want it be rich and full of faith and love and hope and purpose, and point them to one thing and one thing only – GOD.