We hadn’t been dating long at all the first time my husband took me to meet his grandparents. Their greeting was nothing short of warm and genuine. Jess and I got comfortable on the back porch swing while his Papa Gene puttered around the back yard, and Memaw entertained me with stories from Jess’ childhood. Maybe an hour or so of sweet conversation and laughter later, we said our goodbyes and started for the door. Claudia pulled me in tight and squeezed me so. She whispered into my ear, “I already love you“, embraced me once more, then looked at me with the most precious smile.
In the last month, my husband and I have lost two extremely special people in our lives. One of them, my husband’s grandmother. The other, his cousin; who for all intensive purposes was more like a father or uncle to Jess. And most certainly a dear friend and mentor.
When you live a life the way these two precious people lived, loving hard and selflessly serving others, the hurt that is felt in their earthly death stretches far beyond the immediate family. We and so very many others are grieving the passing of these two sweet souls because the lives they lived touched our hearts in a way that I could spend years trying to pen out in words. And it got me thinking about the legacies they left behind.
It’s a word that has churned continually in my brain the last several weeks. I can’t help but ponder how truly important the legacy we pass along to our families and those around us is.
I think it’s safe to assume the majority of people associate a legacy with material possessions. Perhaps money, stocks, homes or other worldly possessions. A godly legacy however, brings God glory throughout eternity because it describes the way a person has kindly loved and treated others.
Passing a baton of faith is a lasting legacy. Moses prepared Joshua to lead the Jews into their new homeland. Elijah equipped Elisha to be his prophetic successor. And Jesus trained Peter to become the “Rock” of His church. These legacies have left an impact on our world and into eternity.
Many of us as Christians today are walking in the middle of the road; we are so focused on what other people think that we are unwilling to take any risks in order to make an impact for Christ. Dwayne and Claudia lived oppositely. I’m not saying they were perfect. But their lives were focused on the eternal things: winning souls to the Lord, passing along faith and compassion.
This blog has come with extreme difficulty and struggle because I have pondered how I might ever be able to compose words that would do any sort of adequate justice to the lives Dwayne Ryals and Claudia Clark lived, and the legacies they left behind. I believe with all my heart they were beacons of truth and light. The fruits of their labor shine brightly in their families and those who knew them as proof they lived boldly and steadfastly for the Lord.
I guarantee if these two that have gone on had one opportunity to come back and impart wisdom and instruction to us that remain here, they would kindly and gently remind us what is most important. I’m forever thankful I was witness to God’s perfect work through their imperfect lives. And their impact in my own life I will carry with me the rest of my days.
I recognize I’m no one special, and my thoughts carry very little weight. I’m not an influencer. And that’s quite alright with me. I aim to share in this little space with you guys only when I truly feel prompted. My prayer is that my thoughts always stir up pure minds and edify.
I hope my words serve to ignite your wheels to turn in a way that prompts you to examine your heart and your ways as it did my own. What are we doing in this short span of time we’ve been allotted here? Are we tirelessly striving to lay up worldly treasures and legacies that will not last? Where is our heart?
Look behind you. Who is following in your footsteps and where are you leading them? It’s absolutely never too late to leave a legacy that truly matters, just as our sweet Memaw and precious Dwayne did. Our challenge while we are here, is to leave our children and others a heritage, not just an inheritance. As someone once said, “Our children are messengers we send to a time we will not see.”
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.