Leaving A Lasting Legacy

This past weekend, we recognized and celebrated Grandparents Day. For the first time, I have no living grandparents and that has given me a lot to think about. This summer was emotional as my dad’s dad passed away in July and within two weeks my mom’s mom passed away. They were both in their nineties and lived good lives revolving around family and love. Even in our sadness over their loss, there was a wonderful time of celebration with family as we remembered their legacies. 

I have many memories associated with my grandparents: fishing on their lake (and getting my toes pinched by crayfish!), peeking at the homemade bread rising over the floor vent, and crawling onto my grandpa’s lap with a stack of books I hoped he would read to me. One of my fondest memories is of Grandparents Day hosted at my school. From Kindergarten through high school, my grandparents were present every single year. This was an investment of time that required planning and preparation. I never questioned if they would be there and expected that most years they would sign me out of school for lunch or donuts. My senior year of high school, we honored my grandparents by recognizing them during the welcome chapel for their man years of dedication and attendance to Grandparents Day. This is just one example of the small steps my grandparents took in walking alongside me. They were also faithful in the lives of their family, friends, and community. These seemingly little moments came together to form their legacy of love and loyalty.

Lasting legacies are often built on faithfulness. Caleb remained faithful to his God, his nation, and his leaders as he built his lasting legacy. We are first introduced to Caleb in Numbers 13. Caleb was a leader of the tribe of Judah and was the chosen representative to enter Canaan to spy out the land. Eleven of the spies reported the glorious bounty of the land, but this was greatly overshadowed by their fear of the inhabitants. Fear fosters fear and this quickly spread throughout the listening crowd. “But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it’” (Numbers 13:30). The people would not listen. Moses and Aaron together with Joshua and Caleb fell on their faces and tore their clothes. The Lord had greatly and miraculously delivered the people out of slavery in Egypt, but their fear was greater than their faith. “If the Lord delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (Numbers 14:8-9). Even when the majority was against him, Caleb stood strong in the Lord with only a few other faithful men by his side. 

Israel did not listen to the wise words of Caleb and went from deliverance from slavery to desert wandering for forty years. The entire unfaithful, unbelieving generation passed away. Their disobedience cost them the blessing and security of the promised land from the Lord. “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it” (Numbers 14:24). The Lord blessed Joshua and Caleb. They were the last remaining of their entire generation and they led the people of Israel into Canaan.

In obedience to God, Joshua and Caleb led the people in the conquest of Canaan. The people begin to settle into the land and Caleb, now an eighty-five-year-old man (Joshua 14:10), asks for possession of his land and inheritance promised by the Lord. Caleb gives an account for himself, “Yet I wholly followed the Lord my God… And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as He said… I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming” (Joshua 14:8, 10, 11). The Canaanites still inhabited the land promised to Caleb, but he asked to go and take possession because “it may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said” (Joshua 14:12). Caleb’s faith in God did not waiver. He trusted God when he first spied out the land and he continued to trust God to fulfill His promises. Despite the hill country being filled with mighty warriors and fortified cities, Caleb took possession of his land “because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel… And the land had rest from war” (Joshua 14:14-15).

We do not have an account of Caleb’s death, but we see in the book of Judges that he challenges the men of Israel to continue to capture and claim the land given to them by the Lord. In this way, Othniel becomes his son-in-law (Judges 1:12-13). “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). Again, Israel was unfaithful to God and God graciously “raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel” (Judges 3:9). Othniel became the first judge of Israel and this speaks to the faithfulness of Caleb at the end of his life. When the new generation turned away from God, Caleb’s son-in-law remained faithful and was chosen by God to save His people.

What can we learn from the life of Caleb and leaving a lasting legacy?

  1. Trust the Lord. He always keeps His promises. Caleb knew what God told the people and he trusted His Word.
  2. Surround yourself with other faithful followers of God. Together boldly share God’s truth. Caleb had the support of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua when the rest of the crowd was overcome with fear.
  3. Walk in obedience to God’s direction. Undeterred by age and undistracted by other options, Caleb claimed the land promised specifically to him.
  4. Remember the faithfulness of the Lord. Caleb recounted the faithfulness of the Lord to Israel and his family remained grounded in His goodness. Even when the world forgot the Lord, Caleb and his family remembered.
A throw blanket from my grandparents, who loved Michigan’s Lakes.

From the examples of my grandparents and Caleb, I have learned that I do not have time to wait for “someday” to begin to build my legacy. Legacies are built on everyday faithfulness to God and to the mission to which He has called me. God may use me to plant seeds that will reap great harvests when I speak a timely verse to a friend, discipline my children, or smile at a passing stranger. Even little moments can have lasting impacts on the lives of others if I steward well the moments God provides me. 

So as I have reflected on grandparents day this week, I remember my grandparents and I thank the Lord for their influence in my life. I pray that I will be earnest in my work, passionate in my ministry, and loving towards others. They have set the example for me, but what example am I setting for my family, friends, and neighbors? I may have 60 more years on earth to build my legacy, or it may be cut short in 60 seconds. May every MOMent be spent in faithful service to God with full confidence that He will remain faithful in bringing glory to Himself and good to His people.

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