2 Kings 2:9-22
One of the most sobering realisations for me as a parent is that I’m leaving my greatest legacy behind right now in the way I influence my children, for bad or for good.
How I pray and make time for God,
speak to my husband,
respond to authority,
encourage responsibility for household tasks,
spend my money,
articulate my values,
behave in a crowded parking lot,
admit my struggles and weaknesses,
say I’m sorry …
… it all has a monumental impact on
the adults that they are growing into,
the relationships that they will pursue,
and they way in which they, in turn, will raise their children.
Legacy. It’s not as much about what we leave when we die, as it is what we instil in the world around us while we are living.
And that impact, though small or seemingly insignificant at the time, can be passed down from generation to generation to generation.
In today’s Old Testament reading, the powerful prophet, Elijah, is asked by his younger travelling companion, Elisha, for a “double portion” of his spirit as an inheritance when Elijah is taken away by the Lord (verse 9). He is asking, in essence, for the blessings and privileges of an eldest son: permission to carry on Elijah’s ministry.
In his reply, Elijah indicates that he has no right or power to give God’s gift to someone else, but he knows that should Elisha witness his ascension into heaven, it would be a sign that God had, indeed, passed the prophet’s mantle on to this young man (verse 10).
“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Elisha asks, striking the river Jordan with Elijah’s fallen cloak.
“Resting on Elisha,” the water replies with its parting (verse 14).
“Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” the people of Jericho ask as they point to the foul spring water that is poisoning their land.
“Resting on Elisha,” the water replies as it is purified by salt and a powerful proclamation of healing which holds true even to this day (verses 21-22).
Likewise, the words of the apostle Peter on trial before the ruling council for performing an act of healing outside the temple are about choosing the legacy that they long for.
On the one hand is the legacy of ignorance through which they disowned and killed the author of life; on the other, the legacy of prophets and of the covenant that God had made with their forefathers: to be a blessing to all people by turning from their wicked ways (verses 17 and 25-26).
We, too, are heirs of the prophets; recipients of an ancient and eternal covenant with a Holy and Mighty God who will, one day, restore everything to order.
The choice, too, is ours: to shroud ourself in blissful ignorance, or to take up a prophetic mantle and become agents of liberation and healing in this generation and the next and the next ….
Today, if possible, throw a few pebbles into a pond and watch how far the ripples reach ….
Reflect on yourself as a pebble cast out into the centre of your family, your community, your country, your world.
What is the legacy you are leaving? What is the legacy that you long to leave?