Psalms 71:14-15; 17-18 NASB But as for me, I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness, and of Your salvation all day long. For I do not know the sum of them. O God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still declare Thy wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Thy strength to this generation, Thy power to all, who are to come.
People love awards. Movies have the Oscar, Broadway has the Tony, and television has the Emmy. They give honors for acting, singing, and sports. More impressive are the prizes for lifetime achievements. Those represent consistent, superior performances over the years — not just the last year.
The humanitarian honors praise those who’ve given much to humanity. Men such as Andrew Carnegie, donated wealth to improve mankind. Others, like Billy Graham, contributed without personal gain.
Many others have done good things in this life but will not seek nor receive recognition. For instance, I have a friend who accumulated wealth in business. He worked long hours, lived a modest lifestyle, and served his church as a Sunday School teacher. A few years ago, his employees and friends noticed signs of dementia. He accepted the diagnosis and prepared for the future.
He liquidated his enterprise and provided for longtime staff. When his wife developed dementia, they moved into an assisted living apartment. He had no close relatives, so he bequeathed his fortune to a scholarship foundation. Few knew of his contribution as he sought no recognition on this side of heaven.
Like David in the seventy-first Psalm, he wishes to “declare Thy strength to this generation, thy power to all who are to come.” Though commendable, most of us won’t have the fortune to leave to humanity. Our legacy will be our reputation. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth.” NASB
In Hollywood, they show movie clips as examples of an actor’s talent. I review my mother’s achievements the same way. From my memory archives, I see her standing in our kitchen, wiping her hands on her flour-powdered apron while preparing a meal for her family. While made from-scratch pies cooled on the counter, the pressure cooker stutters a rhythm.
Now, I see her hanging clothes outside on a spring morning not yet owning a clothes dryer. In the next scene, she is picking green beans from her garden, stopping to wipe the perspiration from her forehead. Later, she’d can dozens of Ball jars for the long, Midwestern winter ahead. By fall she’d fill her panty with canned green beans, pickles, and tomatoes. As I write this, I wish I could taste one of her pickles again.
These memories are not worthy of recognition to anyone but our family. But, to us, they are more valuable than a Carnegie Library. Her lifetime of providing, caring, and loving her family is her legacy. For her reward, we will care for her in her old age.
© 2018 Ronald Milburn