Posts Tagged ‘Legacy’

GOD’S PHOTO BOOK OF ENID FLORENCE SHEDDEN

IMG_1472Julie produces a photo book every year. She writes so beautifully about the journey of our family and as the year is captured through her eyes and words I always see and read of the intertwining stories of the generations. Perhaps it is most obvious when Julie visits her Mum with our grandchildren in the Donald Coburn centre, an aged care facility in Sydney.

I have read some well-crafted fragments beautifully woven together from the fabric of our lives in her books, and now our grief will also be shepherded gently into the pages. Enid, my mother-in-law, Julie’s Mum, our children’s Nan and grandchildren’s great nan went home to be with the Lord on Saturday morning, peacefully slipping away in her sleep.

She valued the book Julie made about her husband Colin. She loved looking at his face on the cover and the treasury of photos within became a source of reminiscing of days gone by.

Enid and Colin’s love story, in fact, was like a beautifully crafted novel, but for us it now seems like the last page has been turned, and although we worked out what would happen, the ending still took us by surprise. Perhaps that’s because the story is not quite complete. The Author expects us to capture the moments and write the end of the story.

This week has been trying to find a fitting way to fill the empty pages, and so we, by way of a eulogy and what we share in conversations, create some kind of conclusion to a story that encapsulates Enid’s life in the words we say and the memories we have of her.

IMG_3224For me what is written in my memory is a woman who didn’t like me much when she first met me. My hair was too long and I was too quiet. Still, almost imperceptively, I remember times in the little country town of Tumut, there in her kitchen, opening up to her as she cooked.

Mostly we talked about the Bible, faith and family. She loved Colin so much and I have never seen a couple more in love with each other or more dedicated to their relationship with Christ.

Her faith in Christ was genuine and she had an assurance that she would one day be with the Lord in heaven – “absent from the body, present with the Lord”.

I had never known that such a family existed and wanted to know more. She came to love me as her favourite son-in-law. I know it’s written differently in the memory of the other son-in-laws, but that’s how I felt. Loved. I value that gift.

GOD WRITES A DIARY

God also writes. He has an ongoing diary, especially of our grief. He sees more significance in our sorrow than we do, perhaps because our attention is drawn to eternity.

Psalm 56:7-9 says “You Lord, keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have RECORDED EACH ONE IN YOUR BOOK.”

I was thinking of the way God writes last night, about how God has written a generational diary called the BOOK OF TRUTH, the Bible, and the BOOK OF LIFE where the names of those who believe in Christ as their Saviour are written.

His Book of Truth made such a difference in Enid and Colin’s life and it inspired them to make an investment in the lives of many people. I remember the string of missionaries they supported and the way they were always willing to help us on our journey in life.

Psalm 139:13 speaks of yet another book, a DIARY. It says that “You (God) saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was RECORDED IN YOUR BOOK. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Our life before God really is an open book.

LOVE STORY

IMG_9576When God wrote Enid’s life, perhaps it was an historic novel, a long book to depict the 87 years of a full and fruitful life. Many chapters.

Somehow I think God had a love story in mind, a romance novel, love for Colin, love for her children and their spouses, love for her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren, but undergirding all that was her love for Christ.

The Holy Spirit wrote into Mum’s marriage words such as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” The fruit of the Holy Spirit characterised their life together. It is expressed best by the words of the verse Julie chose to characterise her Mum. She had “… the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4 NIV).

THE DEDICATION PAGE

IMG_2730The dedication page of a book always catches my attention. The Romance novel of Enid’s life includes a dedication page. As you would expect it is dedicated to the Lord, to Colin and her family.

She leaves behind the pages of a legacy of faith and love for us, as her children, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She prayed for every one of us to know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour. Enid and Colin would pray every day for us.

THE LAST PAGE

Have you ever read a book that you just couldn’t wait to finish but when you got to the last page it was missing? I once read a version of The Pilgrims Progress and the last few pages had been torn out. It was years later that I finally discovered the ending.

From our point of view, that’s what Enid’s book looks like. We have read only the first part of the book. God holds the other pages for the next chapters of her life. He has totally restored the book, crafted to last for eternity.

THE FIRST EDITION

We have only the first edition copy. It’s way out of date, constantly being revised. The rest of the book will never be finished for us, but God is a prolific writer. There is no ending, no tears, no more crying in eternity for Enid and Colin.

PLAGIARISING

I don’t think that Mum would mind if we plagiarise some of the material for our own lives, especially her faith in Christ. What God writes on the remaining pages of our lives has now become of vital importance and significance as we step up.

I wonder what Julie’s Photobook diary will say about our family this year. Perhaps more significant is – I wonder what it is, in the way we live out this year, that will move God’s hand to write another page of the heritage we share.

Pastor Ross – son-in-law to Enid and Colin

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Genesis 25:1-4 – HOW TO LEAVE A LIFECHANGING LEGACY?

Leaving a Lifechanging Legacy

The artwork and design of my wife’s book on her family tree is magnificent. The storyline is clear and so interesting. Hours and hours of work, a labour of love. I am so proud of her. A legacy for generations to come.

In the prologue of her book, Julie writes “It seems a strange thing, almost a disrespectful thing, to reduce the lifetime of one person to a page, a line or just a photo in a book. If only we could go back in time and spend an hour, a day, with each of our forebears, and listen to each one express their lives in their own words – the highs and lows, the challenges and accomplishments, the disappointments and surprises, the heartaches and celebrations – not only would we know more about them, we could appreciate more of the valuable contribution each made to following generations, and understand more about who we are ourselves.”

In Julie’s family tree we can trace back a history of ten generations and a history of faith in Christ for at least five generations. Who knows how many generations to come will seek to find a relationship with Jesus Christ as part of their family heritage? Others in the family tree we know very little about, however.

Everyone knows about Sarah and Hagar in the story of Abraham, but very few know that he also had another wife. In Genesis 25, Abraham Marries Keturah.

We all know he had trouble having children with Sarah. God healed both Sarah and Abraham in order for them to have children, so by the time he marries Keturah all those problems are long gone. Did you know that he had SIX MORE SONS, as well as Ishmael and Isaac?

Psalms 92:12-15 (NLT) says that “the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” This is certainly true of Abraham.

What is the story with these other sons and grandsons of Abraham? They are given generous gifts and sent away. Strange names like Zimran, Ishbak, Ashur, (We named a cat Ashur. I wonder what ever happened to Ashur?) and Letush (great name for a market gardener), and Dedan (the trail goes dead with Dedan), and more. We never really find out? The line is followed only through Isaac, the promised son, not though these other sons.

It is strange to get a mention in Abraham’s family tree and then disappear into OBSCURITY. It seems they do nothing of any real significance worth mentioning. These other sons and grandsons made no real contribution to God’s purposes on the earth except to fulfil a promise made to Abraham of numerous descendents. Why are they mentioned by name at all? Perhaps God deliberately CONTRASTS them with those who follow the believing line which runs through Isaac. Will I leave a lasting Legacy or disappear into obscurity?

Abraham was a very wealthy man and at the time of his death Isaac inherits a huge fortune, everything Abraham has. But the HERITAGE OF FAITH that I give to my children is worth more than all my possessions. We have no idea of the difference we make when we believe in the promises of God and pass them on to our children. Genesis 25:11 (NLT) says “After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac” (see also Genesis 17:19).

The choices Abraham makes in his life give me an invitation to explore what it would look like if I believed in the promises of God. What if I, like Abraham, believed in the promise that one day through Abraham the nations of the world would be blessed. Isaac will continue the LINE OF FAITH that one day will lead to the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ. What if I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, who died for my sins?

Genesis 25 is not about Abraham’s death. It’s about LEAVING A LEGACY. I choose to believe in Christ and LEAVE A LIFECHANGING LEGACY of faith for generations to come. What about you?

Pastor Ross

Genesis 23 – WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITHOUT YOU?

Staking a Claim in a Promise

When dementia had taken it’s course, Bess (not her real name) was left with just a couple of words, but one word which she used to respond to almost any situation was the word “AMAZING!” After a lifetime of words, what a great word to have on your lips at the end of your life. Matthew 12:34 (NLT) says “whatever is in your HEART determines what you SAY.” By declaring life to be AMAZING Bess was not defeated by NEGATIVITY. Of course we sang AMAZING GRACE at her funeral.

In Genesis 23 Sarah’s life could also be summed up by the word “AMAZING” yet there were times when she was defeated by negativity and doubt. “Amazing!” describes the hope given to Sarah of having a son when she was 90 years old. It describes the laughter she felt welling up within her as she was overwhelmed by the joy of such a miracle when Isaac was finally born. She WAS AN AMAZING PERSON. In 1 Peter 3:5-6 she is used as an illustration of what it means to be someone who is truly beautiful. In Hebrews 11:11 she is listed as one who leaves behind an AMAZING LEGACY of faith and confident hope in the promises of God.

I wonder how Sarah responded when Abraham told her that God had told him to sacrifice their only son. Some suggest that the traumatic events of Genesis 22 shocked Sarah so much that she died before her time? I don’t think so. My grandmother died at 108 years old. Sarah dies at 127. She dies of old age, don’t you think? Abraham is even older at 137 years of age. For Isaac it must have been like living with his great grandparents. Imagine Parents Day at school? “No, this is my Mum.”

What am I supposed to do without you? How will I cope with the death of the one I love? I thought about this fleetingly when my wife, Julie, went into hospital recently for an operation. It’s not a thought anyone wants to dwell on. It is predictably heartbreaking for Abraham when Sarah dies. Many years, many adventures together. Now she is gone. “Abraham mourned and wept” (Genesis 23:2 NLT).

When we were living in the Whitsundays a Pastor told me that you will always feel like a stranger and a foreigner in a place until you buy a house and a burial plot. There’s something to that, taking ownership over a given area by saying “I intend to live and die here!”

After expressing his initial grief, in the midst of his pain, Abraham takes responsibility and makes an important decision in terms of appropriating what was his inheritance. He BUYS A PLOT OF LAND. Sarah is the first to die in the promised land. Buying her burial plot is STAKING A CLAIM in the promises of God.

This is the first and only land Abraham owned in his lifetime in Israel, a burial plot. Interesting. I could make some analogies about dying to self before you enter into the promises of God but the analogy would be pushing it.

When Abraham purchases this land from the Hittites, it is also interesting how he describes himself. In Genesis 23:4 (NLT) he says to the Hittite elders “Here I am, a stranger and a foreigner among you. Please sell me a piece of land so I can give my wife a proper burial.”

Abraham is financially well off. He is well respected. He is called a PRINCE (Genesis 23:6), so perhaps he is already a leader among them. They also recognize him as a FRIEND (Genesis 23:15) and offer him the very best land for free, but he sees himself as a STRANGER, and refuses to accept land that will cost him nothing. In Genesis 23:13 he pays 400 pieces of silver and in Genesis 23:18 “it was transferred to Abraham as his permanent possession in the presence of the Hittite elders at the city gate.” God sees him as owning the whole country!

Perhaps the invitation for me is that when I am facing the grief of loss and I find myself asking “What am I supposed to do now?” that’s when I have an opportunity to stake a claim in the promises of God as found in His Word, the Bible. They are my permanent possession. Yes it will involve a cost to make such a decision but it will also shape my destiny and life will continue to be painted with the colours of what can only be described as “AMAZING!”

Pastor Ross