Will you leave a worthwhile legacy? | Faith | The Press and Standard

by | January 15, 2017 5:00 am

Last Updated: January 11, 2017 at 1:51 pm

According to the dictionary “legacy” means something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.
Believe it or not, one’s legacy can be something favorable or unfavorable. When we are born into this world, our purpose has already been set for us. Each of us has to discover what it is, pursue it and fulfill it. Some of us find that purpose and do what God has willed; however, some of us do not. There are a number of Scriptures that reference the fact that we must leave a legacy that is worthwhile for posterity.
Psalm 145:4 (ESV) affirms, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” Further, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,” according to Deuteronomy 6:5-7 (ESV).
On the third Monday in every January, as a nation, we celebrate the legacy of one of the greatest orators, preachers, and civil rights leaders who ever walked the face of this earth. He is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most revered, loved, hated and feared human beings whom we know.
How one feels, personally, about Dr. King is what he knows and understands about the legacy that he left for all mankind, not just one race of people. Then just what was Dr. King’s legacy?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for racial equality in the United States. However, there is so much more to know about this man. When I was just in the seventh grade at Colleton Junior High School here in Walterboro, he died at the hands of an assassin’s bullet on April 4, 1968. I’ll never forget that fateful evening when our neighbor and one of our teachers, Ms. Gussie Melton, walked to my maternal grandmother’s house, to see if we knew that Dr. King had been assassinated. Being so young at the time, I didn’t know what to say, but I watched the reactions of shock and disbelief of the adults in the house, as we all tuned in to the television.
Later, I can vividly recall the day of his funeral service when our principal, Mr. William O. Dowdy, allowed us to gather in the cafeteria to watch it on a small black and white television. We had no complaints because I clearly remember the sense of togetherness that we shared in that room, huddled close together with our fellow classmates, teachers, and principal. I recall seeing some of our teachers crying.
The cameraman got close enough during the funeral procession to catch a glimpse of Rev. McCollum, our District Superintendent of the United Methodist Church. Those of us who knew Rev. McCollum were so elated to see that Walterboro was represented. It was from that day on I vowed to learn more about Dr. King and his legacy.
Given who Dr. King was, there are countless numbers of people who have benefited in more ways than one from his legacy.In the words of the 2017 National Football Championship Coach Dabo Swinney of the Clemson Tigers, about Dr. King’s legacy, “There’s more good than bad in this world. With Martin Luther King, I don’t know that there’s ever been a better man or better leader. To me, he changed the world. He changed the world through love in the face of hate. He changed the world through peace in the face of violence. He changed the world through education in the face of ignorance. And he changed the world through Jesus.” In that championship game on Monday night, Coach Swinney told his players that it was the love that they have for each other that would help them to win. What a perpetual example of a legacy about love through sports!
Linal Harris, in his Inspirational Perspective blog, wrote, “3 Inspirational Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” As I close my message for this week, I will leave one of them, ‘Lesson #2, Shadow Casting,’ with you as you continue to reflect upon the legacy of this famous leader and what your legacy will be for posterity:
“Dr. King hadn’t always been the man we all know and respect. In his writings, he admits to letting hate creep into his heart as an adolescent and later as a young adult. He admitted to a short stretch of skepticism about his faith.
Dr. King became the man we love and know with help and influence from many other great people. In college, Dr. King read ‘Civil Disobedience’ by Henry David Thoreau. He was so moved by Thoreau’s deep beliefs and writings, that he read ‘Civil Disobedience’ multiple times that year. Thoreau’s life and his book were both catalysts that began to mold King’s life work. What if Thoreau had never gone to prison for what he believed? What if he had never written this book? What if King’s college professor had not assigned it?
“In seminary school, Dr. King had the opportunity to hear Dr. Mordecai Johnson, president of Howard University, speak in Philadelphia. Dr. Johnson had just returned home from India, and it was there that Dr. King was introduced to the teaching and beliefs of Mahatma Gandhi. What if Dr. Johnson had chosen a different topic? What if Dr. King had been too tired or busy to go? What if Mahatma Gandhi hadn’t achieved personal immortality?
“‘Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.’ – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We can celebrate Dr. King today because of the shadows those before him cast. What shadows are you casting?”
In other words, will your legacy be one that is worthwhile enough to emulate?
Have a wonderfully blessed week, and never leave home without Him!

(Anna Bright is a minister and educator in Walterboro. She can be reached at abrightcolumn@lowcountry.com)

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