I had just completed a manuscript on Philippians, and my heart was full of joy. Not only because I was through (isn’t that a wonderful word?) but because joy, the theme of the inspired letter I had spent weeks studying, had rubbed off. It was as if Paul and I had shared the same room and written at the same desk.
I was smiling and humming the little chorus “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!” as I inserted the books I had used back onto my library shelves. As I shoved the last volume in place, my eyes fell upon an old work by a British pastor of yesteryear, F. B. Meyer. It was his work on Philippians, but for some reason I had not consulted it throughout my months of study. Thinking there might be something to augment my now-finished manuscript, I decided to leaf through it before calling it a day.
It was not his words that spoke to me that evening, however, but the words of my mother. For as I began looking through it, I realized the book had once been a part of her library; after her death in 1971 it had found its way into mine. In her inimitable handwriting, my mother had added her own observations, prayers, and related Scriptures in the margins throughout the book. Inside the back cover she had written: “Finishing reading this, May 8, 1958.”
When I saw that date—1958—memory carried me back to a tiny island in the South Pacific where I had spent many lonely months as a marine. There, in May of ’58, I had reached a crossroad in my own spiritual pilgrimage and committed myself to a lifetime of ministry.
Amazingly, it was the same month of that same year that my mother had finished Meyer’s book. As I scanned her words, I found one reference after another to her prayers for me as I was far, far away . . . her concern for my spiritual welfare . . . her desire for God’s best in my life.
As I slid Meyer’s book back on the shelf, I thought of the invaluable role my parents had played during the formative years of my life . . . and how the torch had been passed from them to Cynthia and me to do the same with our children—and they, in turn, with theirs.
I could almost hear Mother’s voice saying, “I’m still praying for you, Son. Keep walking with God. Finish strong!”
What treasured legacy has been passed on to you? What prevailing prayers, lasting love, wise warnings, hearty laughter? What are you passing on to your children?