Monday, January 6, 2020

The Legacies We Leave

I watched the celebration of life held for Lois Evans, who was the wife of Pastor Tony Evans. The service was long and filled with lots of speakers, which gave me an opportunity to see glimpses into the life of a lady I wish I have had the opportunity to know. As I watched thoughts about what a legacy was began floating around in my brain.

I saw Lois's legacy when women talked about their friendships with her. As they shared parts of conversations they had had over meals about their children, their spouses, their ministries, their churches, and their relationship with God. Repeatedly I heard people say how their lives were drawn to the Savior by the conversations they had with Lois.

I saw her legacy when women spoke about Lois as a mentor. These women moved to Dallas when their husbands went to Dallas Theological Seminary. They were young brides who had moved far from family and were facing early years of marriage to men who were students at a seminary that demanded a lot of their time. Lois took them under her wing as a mama hen would her chicks. She encouraged them in the Lord, drawing them into the Word. She taught them to love their husbands, gave them wisdom in how to parent their children, and taught them how to relate to the churches their husbands pastored. She shared recipes, enabling them to feed their families on a student's budget, taught them to manage their house holds well, and to become women of dignity and grace. She not only mentored with her words, she mentored by living out a transparent, godly life in front of them.

I saw her legacy in the words people used to describe her. They used the word humble because she wasn't one to draw the limelight to herself. She was more about helping others become who God wanted them to be.

She was known as a loving woman. Lois loved her husband. She loved her children. She loved her friends. She loved those she mentored. and she loved her congregation. Someone told her children she had saved her life by taking the time to have an after-church conversation when she was feeling suicidal and had told Lois she didn't think she was supposed to be here anymore. Lois listened and responded with, "Oh honey, we need you here!" That mama of two is still alive and serving God. 

She was also known as a kind woman. I looked up kind to try to understand just what kind actually means. I found that it meant Lois's behavior was marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern and consideration for others. It means that she helped others in need without expecting anything from then in return. It meant that she stopped to listen, stopped to speak truth into hurting hearts, and stopped to offer compassionate care to those who needed it.

I saw her legacy in her children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren as they took the stage. Every single one that spoke did an eloquent job. They were confident in who they were because Lois had taught them about their identity in Christ. They can teach, preach, sing, and share the gospel in such a way that one would want to know their Savior. They shared a bit about their last days with her. Even during her final days she was showing them how to embrace the end and how to trust God through her transition. She loved Jesus to the very end. They will miss her, but she left them with hope!

And, as I was contemplating legacy one of the speakers shared that one of her favorite things to do was to view sunsets, especially at a lake. She said that as they were watching the sunset together her mom was picking up stones and casting them into the lake, causing the water to ripple. She said watching that, she realized that legacy making is like casting stones into a lake. Each action has a ripple affect. It was then that I realized, that legacies aren't just in the big things we do, but also in the everyday things we do in front of families, friends, and congregations.

I realized today that the legacies we leave are not always just the big things that we do. They are the small everyday things, too. They can either be good legacies or bad ones. When we build up someone, speak healing words into their lives, or remind them gently of God's truth and love it not only impacts them in a positive way, but it impacts those in their sphere of influence as well. However, when we speak harsh, judgmental words, tearing someone down, it will not only impact them but also those around them as well. In the same way when we do something kind without expecting something in return, it, too, will have a positive ripple effect or when we know to do good and withhold it, it will have a negative ripple effect.

While watching people share about their interactions with Lois Evans, I realized that her goal in life never had to be about leaving a specific legacy, it was about living a life deeply connected to her Savior. It was about loving Him with all of her heart, mind, and soul, and a lot about loving others as she lived loved. Her legacy was simply the fruit of making a daily commitment to trust and obey the Savior who died to give her life. It was simply a lifetime of choosing daily to trust His heart towards her and obey His instructions given in His Word. Her legacy was the fruit of a commitment to trust God's sovereignty in both the good and the hard. Her legacy was formed one word, one conversation,  and one act of kindness at a time, each rippling outwardly from the intended receiver. Her amazing legacy is reflective of what God wants for us all.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!