I've been thinking about one word a lot recently... LEGACY. My thoughts can be traced to a recent event in my life.
This past week I spent time in my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. I traveled home for my Uncle Alvis's funeral on this past Monday. His funeral was one of the most precious I've ever attended. The room was filled with people whose lives have been touched one way or another by Uncle Alvis. Family members, colleagues, neighbors, fellow church members -- we all crammed into his A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) church home to reminisce and illuminate a life fully lived.
My uncle spent his life serving college students as a professor in the School of Social Work at Howard University in Washington D.C. (my alma mater, by the way - HU!!!). As the president of Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina for a short time. As a member of the peace corps in Liberia, West Africa (which my family and I visited when I was only 4 years old). As a social activist for African Americans in our nation's capital and beyond. As a political enthusiast (and Republican, like my Dad, believe or not). As a family historian and writer.
As a man who constantly searched for opportunities to lift up the poor, the hungry, the outcast.
As I sat, reminiscing over these things that I already knew he had accomplished, an interesting thought came to me. I had always wondered about the origins of the "Mother Teresa" deep in my soul. I know my beautiful Mom and Dad had great influence for sure. Interestingly, I believe my Uncle Alvis did too.
As I sat in my uncle's funeral, I also thought about the word LEGACY.
This one word makes me go deep, makes me do a heart-check and makes me ask some hard questions. When I leave this world, what will I leave in my absence? Will I have made the places I frequented better than when I arrived? Will I have encouraged, supported and loved the people I'm blessed to have in my life - even the ones that might be difficult to love at times? Will I have changed the world for the better, even in my little corner of the world?
I am in a period of rebooting of sorts. I'm forty (eh hem...) now. For me, it is time to focus on making this life count, on making an impact for God's kingdom, on seizing opportunities to lift up others in my little corner of the world.
One way I'm wanting to do this is to WRITE. For over a decade, I've focused on ministry and nonprofit work. This I will continue to do, for sure.
But the one question I heard over and over again when I was in Maryland/Washington D.C. was this... "Are you still writing?"
Apparently God's given me a mission here, as small as it may be. I may not have a huge platform. I may not have thousands of Twitter followers. I may not have droves people that would flock to amazon.com to purchase a book written by me. But God keeps giving me something to say. He keeps encouraging me through others to persist and press and prod. He keeps exhorting me to sit my rear in a chair, put my fingers on my laptop keyboard and WRITE.
And so I have. And so I will. Even when everything in me tells me that it's not enough. That there are more important things that need doing. That I should spend my time and energy elsewhere.
The things that God puts in us are the things that He wants us to give back to the world. What has God put in you? What has He given you to do? Think of all the books that would be written, paintings that would be painted, words that would be spoken, ministries and business that would be birthed - if only we examined our hearts to find the thing God has placed in us.
So many things can impede us... Fear. Discouragement. Busyness.
Yet so many things can propel us...
A calling from God.
Family and friends cheering us on.
Knowing that someone, somewhere needs to read, see, feel, experience whatever it is we have to give.
What else propels us? LEGACY. Knowing that this life on earth is brief and short. That we will have - at most - 80, 90, 100 years here to make a difference.
Even the Bible speaks to the brevity of life...