Guest column: Make your legacy last, now and later

If you had to choose between enjoying something now and waiting until later, what would you choose? My guess is that most of us would probably choose to have it now.

The makers of the classic candy Now and Later understood this tension of wanting to enjoy something that lasts. In the late 1800s they developed a taffy-like candy whose flavor would last longer than the average candy bar, hence the name. They discovered that if you do things right, you don’t have to choose. You can actually enjoy good things both now and later. The best part is, this rule does not only apply to great candy, but to your legacy as well.

The definition of a legacy is typically something that is left by an ancestor or predecessor. However, I believe God intends your legacy to be enjoyed both now and later. You are called to make an impact where you are right now and for those who will come after you.

During Black History Month we reflect on legacy and faith. We remember those who sacrificed so later generations might live even better lives.

We remember W.C. Smith (1854-1937), founder, publisher and editor of Charlotte’s first black secular newspaper, The Charlotte Messenger. We remember Charlotte Hawkins Brown (1883-1961), an American educator who became the first African-American woman named to the national board of the YWCA. We also consider and reflect on legacies left by generous people such as Mary Biddle (1867-1936) and Jane Smith (d. 1929) whose contributions made Johnson C. Smith University possible.

All of these North Carolina greats were able to make impact on earth that would affect others, both during their times and for the times to come.

Legacy is not only what we leave for others, but it is the future we embrace right now. Jesus demonstrated this with statements such as, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you ...” (John 14:27). He wasn’t just leaving a legacy of peace for the future, but he wanted the disciples to embrace that peace right then and there.

He proved it when he offered the Great Commission to “Go therefore and make disciples …” (Matthew 28:19a). Through his life and his mission, Jesus offers a glimpse of what it looks like to walk into legacy right now and allow others to live into that legacy later.

By trusting in the power of Jesus Christ, we embrace the legacy of God’s grace both now and later. Right now, faith in Christ allows us to enjoy peace that passes all understanding, joy unspeakable and forgiveness of our sins. In the days to come, faith in Christ opens the door to eternal life and allows us to impact the world as it is and as it will be. Yes, Jesus offers legacy that extends through us and beyond us at the same time.

As you consider your impact, think not only of the benefit your life can give to those around you today, but think also of those who will benefit tomorrow. How can you make a difference today that will last for months and even years to come?

Today, let us embrace God’s purpose in such a way that makes life sweeter, both now and later.

The Rev. Nicole Martin is executive minister at The Park Church.