He Left a Sweet Trail

Reflecting on the difference between heritage and legacy
3 min read

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Psalm 127:3

I had to chuckle as I filled the small candy dish that sits on my desk. Emptying the last of a bag of peppermint Lifesavers, I couldn’t help but think of my late father, Rev. John T. Adams, who left a trail of Lifesaver wrappers everywhere he went.

My Dad’s daily ritual included making sure he had a pocket full of Livesavers, preferrably mint flavored. This was partly because he had a sweet tooth, but also because as a pastor he was always concerned about having coffee breath when he had conversations with parishioners.

Later in his years, he also enjoyed giving the mints out to his grandchildren and the kids at church. It was a common sight to see little ones run up to him in the hallway with their hands out asking, “May I have a Lifesaver, please?”

So, my Dad’s legacy can be summed up in just one word: Lifesaver. And actually, it’s true on a couple of levels. Not only did he pass out Lifesaver mints, he also led people to the Lifesaver of all Lifesavers, Jesus. Dad dedicated his life to serving God by serving people and helping them know and follow Jesus. I think it would be no exaggeration to say that after 60-plus years of sharing the Gospel, hundreds of people will be in Heaven because of his efforts.

A Lifesaver, indeed.

But there’s another part of my Dad’s legacy for which I am eternally grateful. He was known for often saying “Keep on keeping on.” Especially when times were tough, Dad would cheer folks on with this faith-based mantra. The idea was to keep on trusting God, do what He’s leading you to do, and don’t quit.

But perserverence in the face of difficulty was not only something he preached. He also lived it. When life was a grind, he kept on. When being a pastor broke his heart, he kept on. When he lost his wife of 35 years to Leukemia, he kept on. When he failed, he kept on. Even when dementia began to close in on him, he kept on.

In the introduction to his notes on 1 Chronicles, Warren Wiersbe explains that there is an important difference between heritage and legacy. He says your heritage is “the accumulated history of your family.” Legacy, on the other hand, is “what we add, good or bad, to our children’s and grandchildren’s heritage.” He goes on to say, “If you don’t like the heritage you received, you can shape your legacy and change the heritage your descendants will receive.”

In other words, we may not have a lot of control over the family heritage we inherited, but we have much to do with our legacy and the heritage our progeny will inherit from us.

As for me, I’m asking God to help me keep the Lifesaver thing going.

You can shape your legacy and change the heritage your descendants will receive.

Warren Wiersbe

How about you? What’s your legacy going to be? Will you leave behind wrappers? Will it be a trail of faith, hope, and love, or something else?

Dear God, thank you for those who went before us and gave us a heritage that we want to pass along to our children and grandchildren. For those who are attempting to begin a new heritage, give them courage and grace to persevere. Please help all of us to embrace the opportunity to add something eternally good to the heritage of our children and grandchildren today. May our legacy be a clear and lasting legacy of faith, hope, and love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.

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