Yesterday was an emotional day for our family as we gathered at Cardiff’s Velindre Hospital to celebrate my mam’s 64th birthday. Unless mam’s health improves in a miraculous way, she probably won’t enjoy another birthday, so we knew we had to make this one special!
About a month ago my sister had a genius idea (that almost caused her to crash her bike!) She thought that while most people never get to say good things about those they loved until their funeral, we’d give as many people as possible their chance to let my mam know just what she had meant to them while she was still alive! What followed was a month of letter-writing, emailing and visiting to ask as many people as we could think of to pay their tributes to mam. We asked each of them to make their contribution on a slip of paper that would form a link in a paper chain that we would hang up by mam’s bed on her birthday.
The evening before her birthday I went down to my parents’ house to see how they were getting on with the chain. I was not prepared for what I saw – the entire dining table completely covered by paper links – some with good wishes, some with thanks, some with fond memories and some with prayers. Over 100 links that created a chain that was over 20 feet long with contributions from people whose gratitude for mam goes back more than 4 decades!
It was quite breath-taking!
Suffice to say mam was overwhelmed! She wept as she was wheeled into the special family room, was speechless as this 20 foot chain of grace was pulled out of its box, joined in with tears in her eyes as Michelle led us in singing “In Christ Alone” and broke out in a tearful, spontaneous prayer, thanking God for her family – all of whom are born-again and passionate about Jesus. It was awesome in the truest sense of the word – a beautiful Christian woman suffering greatly, yet finding hope in Christ and reasons to rejoice depsite her affliction:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8v18)
As I reflected on the most emotional birthday party I’ve ever been to, especially the paper chain, it struck me that mam can’t take anything with her when she finally passes away. Her pay-off, however, is Christ – and what more could she possibly want for eternity? (answer – nothing!) It got me thinking that we get to take nothing with us when we die, but we all get to leave something! Whatever kind of life we lived, we will all leave a legacy (either good or bad) and that is how we will be remembered. My mam who is the most gentle, humble, gracious and loving woman who I’ve ever known has over 100 links that represent over 100 lives that she has touched in a powerful and positive way. Some spoke of her example as a Christian, some of her dedictated service as a teacher, some of her faithfulness as a friend and some of her role in their salvation.
By God’s grace mam’s legacy is amazing – and I know she would want God to get all the glory for it!
The question for us is what kind of legacy will we leave?