Ask yourself a question, What kind of legacy will you leave behind? A couple of years ago I spent a few nights in the hospital with a friend who was undergoing surgery.Working during the day and spending the nights at the hospital was not easy, and all I wanted to do was get some sleep,
But of course, the hospital is not exactly a place where anyone can get much rest. On one of those nights I fell asleep on a chair, which seemed designed to inflict maximum discomfort, but I figured some sleep is better than no sleep, so I didn’t mind. In the middle of the night, however, I woke up from the agonizing cries of a patient. The noise came through the open door from the hallway. I tried to go back to sleep, but the sobbing got more intense, it had a way of penetrating me to the core. I finally gave up trying to fall asleep and sat up. Frustrated, and a bit annoyed I decided to investigate and walked out of the room, into the hallway. By this time I realized which room the noise was coming from and I slowly tiptoed my way to the entrance of that room. I peeked inside to see what was going on and suddenly realized the magnitude of the situation. In that room I saw a very old grandma looking up in agonizing pain, holding her son’s hand and groaning. I did not want to be rude by staring at them, but I could not help myself. I stared, unable to move, thinking they were oblivious to me standing there. As I watched this scene unfold, I suddenly realized that this lady was dying. Her time was running out. It was at that moment by some divine intervention I had an epiphany. I realized that this little old lady, like me, was once young with hopes and dreams. However, now, like the sand in an hourglass, the minutes of her life were slipping away. I was finally able to pull myself together and walk away from this scene. Needless to say, I could not fall asleep the rest of the night. The next day, when I returned to the hospital, I could not wait to walk by that room again and see what had happened. However, when I finally arrived at the room and peeked in, the bed was empty, and the blanket was neatly folded.
I think about that night a lot; it’s a constant reminder for me that I have an expiration date. It is not a matter of if we expire, but when? Someday I will inevitably be in the same position with my life slipping away, and I will wonder about how I spent my time. Did I leave a great legacy? And what now? It is so easy to forget that life is fleeting quickly.
Just like the lilies of the valleys, we bloom, and then we dry up. We are like vapor dissipating in the air. We are here; then we are gone. In light of that, how can we waste the most precious resources on things that are utterly meaningless? Because the most precious resource we have is time. We can waste it, spend it, or invest it.
Unfortunately, many of us spend our precious time working to buy things that will someday rust in the junkyard or be passed onto someone else. Of course buying new stuff adds excitement to our lives, but soon we get bored and move on, wanting something else which requires more of our money, which is our time. Regardless of this disappointing cycle, we still waste our money on things that don’t last or deliver on the satisfaction promised. So we continue the cycle, thinking that we need more of the stuff that just failed at bringing us joy. We ignore the questions of what brings joy. Where should we invest our time? May I suggest investing your time into two categories? First, invest your time in a relationship with God. Second, invest your time into relationships with other people.
Invest in a relationship with God.
We can spend our lives pursuing so many things, but the bottom line is that every pursuit of temporary satisfaction is sure to disappoint in light of eternity. Humans crave to understand the supernatural, which is why religion is part of almost every culture. Blaise Pascal wrote, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.“ So anchor the hope of your life in God, who transcends the temporary, and you will have hope that is indefinite. If we fail to establish a relationship with God on this side of eternity, then ultimately for us it does not matter what we were right about!
Invest in a relationship with people you encounter every day.
To leave a great legacy one must first have something to leave behind. If we are hollow and empty men, then what can we leave for others? In the country song, Three Wooden Crosses, Randy Travis tells the story of four strangers riding in a bus when the bus collides with an eighteen-wheeler semi-truck. Three of them die; leaving only one who survives the horrible accident, a hooker. Randy Travis is challenging the audience to think about what they will leave behind when their time comes. He sings:
That farmer left a harvest, a home, and eighty acres,
The faith an’ love for growing things in his young son’s heart
A’ that teacher left her wisdom in the minds of lots of children:
Did she best to give ’em all a better start
An’ that preacher whispered, “Can’t you see the Promised Land?”
As he laid his blood-stained bible in that hooker’s hand
He concludes his song with:
It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you,
It’s what you leave behind you when you go
Consequently, what will you leave behind? Will it be something temporary or something eternally valuable? How you use your time and where you choose to invest it will determine that. So I conclude, invest your time into people. They are the only investment that lasts for eternity.
Invest in a great relationship with your family.
People may come and go, but the family will be there for your whole life. There is a connection through the family that can never be erased. Maybe you think that your family is somewhat dysfunctional, most of them are. This is because families are made up of imperfect people with imperfect lives. But this is the environment where we first learn how to grow. Within this predisposed environment, we have to choose if we are going to become bitter of better. It is here that we first learn how to love one another, even when you do not like each other. If your family is broken, you do not have to continue the cycle of brokenness. You have a choice to continue the blessings or spread the curses. You can change the direction of your family by investing your time, therefore, leaving a great example for generations to come.
Invest in great friendships.
Today with the social media infatuation, our friendships tend to be a mile wide and an inch deep. We have many acquaintances and very few genuine friendships. True friendship is to put others before yourself. In John 15:13 says that “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” That means that real friendship is sacrificial. Jesus died for the blind, the lame, the prideful and the arrogant. Not only did He care for the broken, but He also restored them and called them His friends. Furthermore, He also called us friends. Surely we can love those around us, even the ones we don’t like. Some of the people I strongly disliked a few years ago are now some of my closest friends. So seek out and invest your time into genuine and Godly friendships, they will mold you and challenge you; they will make your sorrows easier to bear, and your joys more exciting.
Invest in people you don’t like!
There is a saying that says, “we should be more kind than necessary because everyone we meet is fighting some battle” We can conclude that this is true because not everybody knows your battles; so extend that kindness to everyone you encounter. Go even further and do random acts of kindness. So pay that undeserving waitress a big tip because you do not know what kind of day she had. Take that homeless man out to lunch. Be nice and encouraging to your coworker when you do not have to. Laugh a lot, and smile even more. You never know which one of the strangers you meet will become your friends. But even if the people you meet won’t ever see you again, still go that extra mile and take that extra step; for in doing so you might be impacting eternity without even knowing it.
Finally, in a hundred years from now, when you are going to what will they say about you? What kind of legacy will you leave behind? Did you bless thousands of even millions? Or did you continue the cycle of brokenness? Even more important in a hundred years from now where will you be? Want it or not, our expiration date is coming at the speed of sixty minutes an hour.