Leaving a Legacy
"The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple."
A "legacy" is defined as "a gift...left to someone...," and "anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor." Jim Elliot's journals are a legacy for generations to come. Any believer who journals leaves a spiritual legacy, and parents can leave a lasting spiritual legacy for their children.
Take, for example, a Christian parent. Children learn most of their spiritual values from their parents; therefore, parents are to be role models for the way they want their children to grow up spiritually. As the child grows and learns spiritual truths from the parent, they also learn about the Bible. As they grow older and desire to learn more about the Bible on their own, they have an abundance of commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias and other helps to explain the Bible.
There is an abundance of commentaries on the Bible, but there are no spiritual commentaries on you, the child's parent.
Thus, a child is left without a written record of how God and His Word touched the lives and hearts of his or her parents.
Practically speaking, parents and children are not together enough for the child to know how God is working in every facet of the parent's life. Even families who have daily devotions together are rarely exposed to the parents' inner thoughts. Children are usually not aware of their parents' personal struggles, tough decisions, burdens of prayer, and occasional crisis that the parent must endure, much less how God provides answers, guidance and comfort from His Word. Children are often protected from such trials and afflictions, as well as personal temptations that the parent might face. Therefore, children rarely have an opportunity to see how exactly and in what manner the Word of God is "fleshed out" in the life of the parent. In other words, there is no recorded spiritual commentary on the parent.
This is where leaving a legacy through journaling comes in. As parents journal daily how God's Word speaks to the heart, a legacy is left for their children. Wouldn't it be a surprise—and a great value—if on graduation day, or as a wedding present, parents presented to their son or daughter a spiritual commentary on how God spoke to them over the years of their growing up? Done consistently through the Bible, a complete commentary could be presented that would remain long after the parent passed away.
And what about future generations? What a blessing it would be for that son or daughter to show the journal to their own children and say, "Here is a spiritual commentary on the spiritual life of my parents and how God spoke to them through the Bible."
For the next Christian generation, few things would be of greater treasure than the spiritual legacy of their parents' walk in the Word.
Leaving a legacy through journaling is not difficult. Here's how one parent describes his habit of journaling:
"I get up before anyone else in the house. I help myself wake up by fixing a fresh cup of coffee and taking a shower. Then I spend some time praying for my family, my work, and special prayer needs. Then I open my Bible and read one chapter of the Old Testament. I then pick out one subject or one verse or one phrase or even one word that touches my heart, and then I write about it. (I sit at a computer which makes editing easy.) Sometimes I do a little commentary on the verse, and add my own insights into what it means. But then I make sure I explain why the verse means a lot to me personally, and how it touches my heart. (Time is short before I go to work, so I only write a paragraph or two, except on weekends when I have more time.) Then I repeat the procedure from the New Testament and do the same thing. I'm about halfway through the Bible now and I've written over 500 pages! I always back up my work, and every month I print out a hard copy so I'll have that just in case. (One day, I'll put it all on a CD.) I plan to present it to my children on their wedding day, in the form of a bounded book. There may be three or four volumes!"
This man's children are going to receive a great blessing some day that will be with them for the rest of their lives!