Leaving a Legacy

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

How do you want to be remembered?  What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?  What memories about you will live longer than you live?

There is an interesting group known as the National Association for the Preservation of Skin Art (NAPSA).  This group has concocted a way that folks can leave a legacy.  They have devised a plan to allow people to have their tattoos posthumously removed, preserved and framed so they can be hung on a loved one’s wall.

This is the way it works:  When a tattooed person dies, NAPSA sends over a preservation kit to be brought to the funeral home.  The tattooed area of skin is sliced off and sent to this organization.  It takes about three months to have the tattoo framed and delivered to the family.  NAPSA says “Your story, your spirit and your legacy can live on for generations to come.”

I don’t want a tattoo to be my legacy.  Actually, I don’t want a tattoo! There are far more important things for which I want to be remembered.

In his book I Almost Missed The Sunset, Bill Gaither writes about teaching school in Alexandra, Indiana, where he had grown up.  He and his wife wanted to buy a piece of property where they could build a house.  He noticed some property he liked.  It belonged to a 92-year old retired banker named Mr. Yale.  He owned a lot of other property, and he always told people he didn’t want to sell “because I promised the farmers they could use it for their cattle.”

Bill and Gloria Gaither visited him at the bank and inquired about the property.  He said, “Not selling. Promised it to a farmer for grazing.”  Bill Gaither told him they were teaching school and thought he would consider selling it to somebody who would settle in that area.  Mr. Yale then asked him his name.  Bill said, “Gaither.  Bill Gaither.”

Immediately, Mr. Yale said, “Are you any relation to Grover Gaither?”  Bill said that was his granddad.  Mr. Yale said, “Interesting.  Grover Gaither was the best worker I ever had on my farm.  Full day’s work for a full day’s pay – so honest.  What did you say you wanted?”

Bill told him the acreage he was wanting to buy.  A week later Mr. Yale told him he had the property appraised and said, “How does $3,800 sound?  Would that be OK?”  Bill first thought he was talking about $3,800 an acre.  Mr. Yale was going to sell him all fifteen acres for $3,800!  Bill Gaither knew it was worth much more than that.  He got the property!

Thirty years later Bill Gaither and his son were strolling on his beautiful property that had once been pasture land.  Bill Gaither said, “Benjy, you’ve had this wonderful place to grow up through nothing that you’ve done, but because of the good name of a great-granddad you never met.”  What a legacy!

I seriously doubt tattoos will last very long.  If they do, that’s a poor legacy to leave.  I’m completely confident that a good name is a wonderful legacy to leave.  “A good name is more desirable than great riches.  To be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Prov. 22:1).  “A good reputation is more valuable than expensive perfume.  And the day you die is better than the day you are born” (Eccl. 7:1).  “Finishing is better than starting” (Eccl. 7:8).

Leave a legacy that will honor God and bless people!

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