Paul J. Meyer, in his book “Unlocking Your Legacy,” tells about the time in 1969 his mother was found after having fallen in her home. She died a few days later in the hospital.
Meyer writes, “In the apron she was wearing the day she fell, I found a note that read: ’S.S. HOPE: 7 miles, 7 cents.’”
“I cried uncontrollably, realizing that she had raised seven cents after walking seven miles for S.S. HOPE, a hospital ship that provided medical care to people in developing nations. Those seven miles might have even been what killed her.”
Meyer could have become bitter about what happened to his mother. He could have blamed God. Or those she was trying to help. However, he was motivated to become a great philanthropist, giving millions to help the needy.
This story speaks to the importance of influence, example, and legacy.
In today’s Bible reading in Mark 15, there’s an even greater story of a lasting legacy. It’s almost obscure. Easy to overlook. A passage to pass over.
Mark records the Lord’s journey to the place of His execution. Tired, beaten, scourged, Jesus struggles with the heavy beam of the cross that will soon hold His body. Then Mark writes:
“And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross” (v. 21).
Simon had journeyed some 800 miles from this North African country. He had come to worship at the Passover. Now a Roman solder was involving him in this spectacle. He may have resented it. But he had to comply. This providential encounter, however, changed his life and altered his legacy.
Mark says that Simon was the father of Rufus and Alexander, obviously known to the Roman readers to whom he was writing. They were Christians. Regarding Rufus, Paul sends his greeting and calls him “chosen in the Lord. He also mentions his mother, who he says “has been a mother to me as well.”
There’s also an Alexander mentioned in Acts 19:13. Then in Luke’s list of men of Antioch who sent Paul and Barnabas out on their first missionary journey is a man named Simeon (another name for Simon) who was called Niger, the name for a swarthy skinned man from Africa.
Think of this: Simon, who bore the cross of Christ, left a lasting legacy to his family that’s forever chronicled in sacred Scripture.
When I think of my family’s legacy, I have pretty good evidence that my great-great-grandfather, John Weliever, from Crawfordsville, Indiana, was a Christian. I know his son Pearson was a deacon and the treasurer in a little country church nearby. My grandmother became a Christian. And so did my father, Roy.
I remember Dad serving as a Deacon and later an elder in the church in Plainfield, Indiana. I grew up going to every service of the church. Listening to Dad give Wednesday night talks. Watching him leave the house to visit the sick, shut-in and unfaithful. Learning of entire families who were baptized because of his personal study with them. Seeing him sit in his big chair in the evening after a hard day’s work in the factory and on a farm, not watching TV. But reading his Bible.
The wise man wrote, “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children (Prov 13:22). But greater than a physical or financial inheritance is the spiritual heritage that we can pass on to our children. Grandchildren. And even generations yet unborn.
What legacy are you leaving your family?
Is it a lasting legacy of values that glorify God? Blesses other people? Provides purpose? And results in an eternal reward?
Simon of Cyrene initially bore the cross under compulsion, but later did so out of conviction.
When you and I take up His cross daily and follow Him, who knows who will be impacted? Whose soul will be saved? Whose life will be changed? Whose eternal destiny will be affected?
“The great use of life,” wrote William James, “is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
Legacy. It’s your name forever etched in the hearts of family, friends, and brethren.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman