So he died, according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.
2 Kings 1:17 (NIV)
This past year, our daughter Madison got a tattoo on her arm. It’s a gorgeous tat of a floral bouquet. She put a lot of thought into it. Each type of flower in the bouquet represents the previous generations of family who have influenced and impacted her life journey. Each flower has a metaphorical meaning related to the individual member of the family that it represents. The flower she chose for me was Simbelmynë, or “Evermind,” a fictional flower in Lord of the Rings. For Wendy, she chose red Ivy which represents affection and friendship. It goes on with flowers representing parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and step-grandparents. All of them are honored in the bouquet for the contribution they made to her life, and the positive qualities each person exemplified for her in her life journey.
I thought about that as I contemplated the brief reign of Ahaziah, son of evil Ahab, the ancient king of the northern kingdom of Israel. His brief reign of one year reign (he spent one year as coregent with his father) is encapsulated in a single episode. He has a “one thing” legacy in the Great Story. Ahaziah is injured in a falling accident. He sends messengers to the pagan Philistine god Baal-Zebub in the city of Ekron to divine if he would recover. In this, Ahaziah has revealed himself to be the true offspring of his father and mother’s hardhearted devotion to pagan gods and their antagonism towards the God of Abraham, Moses, and David. The prophet Elijah sends Ahaziah word that he will die on his bed, and so he does, and that’s his legacy.
In the quiet this morning, I find myself thinking about legacy. I’ve observed that most people have little knowledge of their family legacy once they get past grandparents, or perhaps great-grandparents, who they may have known. Family is quickly forgotten, despite the fact that their lives and legacies contributed to the family system that impacted their descendants in numerous ways.
I consider Madison’s tattoo to be an index and roadmap for future generations to learn a bit about the individuals in the generations before her. I envision her in old age talking to grandchildren or great nephews and nieces and talking about each flower in the bouquet adorning her arm, which will prompt questions they will ask about those individuals, and stories she can share about each one, which will inform them of the legacy they have received from individuals they never knew. People who instilled faith, perseverance, and love into the family system.
And, of course, this brings to mind my own legacy and what will be remembered in the brief time I will be remembered before I and my life are completely forgotten on the earth. What will stand out and be remembered when I am remembered at family gatherings. What are the stories that will be shared? What will I have contributed? Will it be positive or negative? Faith or doubt? Courage or fear? Harmony or conflict? Love or hatred?
As I enter into this, another day kicking off another work week, I’m thinking that legacy has more to do with my daily thoughts, words, and actions than I want to admit.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.