A THANKSGIVING LEGACY
By: Dara Bennett
A legacy is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “anything handed down as from an ancestor.” At this time of the year when the whole country pauses to be thankful, I felt it was the perfect opportunity for me to share how grateful I am for the Godly legacy that my mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother left for me.
“When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5)
God has been revealing to me, mostly through scripture, how vital it is to leave that lasting Godly legacy of genuine faith, for my children and grandchildren also.
I was raised in a household with an alcoholic father, who is to this day the angriest, most bitter man I know. He was emotionally abusive to my mother, and controlled her every move, until the day of her death. Through all this, she never claimed to be a victim, but remained a Godly wife and mother, whose Christian example has inspired me to be the woman I strive to be today. For a period of several months during my early teen years, my father persisted in accusing my mother of having an extra-marital affair. This unfounded accusation served to further destroy my mother’s spirit and leave her what I call an “emotional wreck.” She became deeply depressed. I do not know how she found the strength to get out of bed, knowing that she would daily be mercilessly bombarded with verbal attacks, except that through it all she hung on desperately to her sincere faith in the Lord.
One of my fondest memories of my mother is seeing her sitting peacefully on the sofa, in the dimly lit livingroom, early every morning, spending her private time with the Lord. Her Bible was always open on her lap, as she was meditating and praying. She taught us the value of God’s Word and that authentic faith and confidence in the Lord is to be lived out every day of your life. Her faith was quiet and gentle, but there was no mistaking the strength, peace and inner joy she found in it. Her dedication to this was evident until the day of her very last breath.
The year I graduated from high school, 1980, my mother attempted suicide. But by the grace of God she was unsuccessful. Even in the final note she left for us, she was asking for everyone’s forgiveness. From that point on, she seemed more determined than ever to live out her genuine faith and not waver from her purpose to be a devoted wife and to leave a Godly legacy for her children and grandchildren. She lived by the principle expressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16:
“…For how do you know O wife, whether you will save your husband?...”
In 1997, at the age of 58, my mother died of a much accelerated case of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I will admit that I doubted God for a short period of time and even questioned His methods, wondering how my mom’s death would accomplish the goal of my father’s salvation. But eventually I came to the realization that God was in control; nothing catches Him off guard and He alone knows what’s best for each one of His children. I know now that in part, my mother’s seemingly untimely death, served to open the door for my father to examine his desire for salvation. And even though my dad’s life still does not reflect a love for Christ as of November 2006, my mother’s faithful dedication and servanthood did nothing but encourage him to have a relationship with the Lord.
“For though I am free from all men, I made myself a servant to all that I might win the more.” (1 Corinthians 9:19)
My mother taught me the true meaning of love, forgiveness, servanthood, and sacrifice. Even though one of my children and all of my grandchildren will never know her, the legacy that she left will live on for generations.
When my maternal grandmother went home to be with the Lord, and we were going through her personal items, the comments made were evidence of her genuine faith also. One being, “She read through this Bible so many times we’ve lost count.” Even though I only visited her once every other year, I always remember her having her Bible close at hand. That was the legacy passed on to my mother. I so desire to follow suit and by my life and testimony, by leaving a Godly legacy for my offspring also.
In 1983 I met my future mother-in-law, only to find out that the Lord had blessed me again with yet another Godly woman to be a mentor in my life. She had lived a very difficult life also. Her mother passed away when she was very young. She married only to later divorce her unfaithful husband, after having four children. She raised them to love and serve God, while at times holding down three jobs. She too made it a priority to spend quiet time with the Lord every day and I’ll not soon forget the comfort it provided me to see her sitting with her well-worn Bible open on her lap. The Godly influence of sacrifice she exhibited everyday has been etched on my heart forever.
Her faith never failed to waver even when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She put forth all the energy she could muster, to see that every one of her grandchildren, 18 at the time, would have a copy of Charles Sheldon’s classic, “In His Steps,” with her personal words of encouragement penned inside each cover. Her eyes were always on Jesus and even in the midst of her final painful days she was anxiously looking forward to laying her cross at Jesus’ feet and picking up her crown.
She went home to be with the Lord in February, 1999. She made sure everyone she came in contact with knew that a life worth living and remembering, had God as the center.
I’m so grateful currently that the Lord has placed another Godly woman in my life as a mentor. Even though Elsie too has led a trying life, she makes it a priority to encourage and speak God’s wisdom to the younger women that the Lord places in her life. I am so thankful that the Lord joined our spirits and saw fit to have our paths cross. Nothing takes the Lord by surprise. He knew what I needed and even though she lives hundreds of miles away, He has generously blessed me with Elsie.
“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16)
Isn’t that our primary goal here on this earth, to draw others to Christ? I desire to leave a Godly legacy like my mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother did … not one of wealth and notoriety, but one of sincere, genuine faith that is evident to all I come in contact with. At this time of Thanksgiving let us all focus on the legacy that has been left for us and seek to leave a Godly one of genuine faith for those following after us. It could be the difference between eternal life and death.
Dara's Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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