I have used this story on previous editions of Frankly Speaking. Enjoy.
A man was watching his 80-year-old neighbor plant a small peach tree. He inquired of him, “You don’t expect to eat peaches from that tree, do you?” The old man rested on his spade. He said, “No, at my age I know I won’t. But all my life I have enjoyed peaches — never from a tree I planted myself. I’m just trying to pay the other fellows who planted the trees for me.” –As quoted in Paul J. Wharton, Stories and Parables for Preachers and Teachers (Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1986), 33.
Friends: I believe that everyone leaves a legacy. We make last wills and testaments to help carry out the disposal of our property when we die. However, after the checks are distributed, deposited/cashed, or maybe invested for further gain, what will the people say about the one whose life is no longer with us? What will be the real testimony of a life lived, whether they lived for three years or 103?
All leave behind something. First, I believe that we should leave this world in a better place than when we entered it. For some, that means leaving it financially in better shape. For others, their world would be in order. Maybe a song commissioned to talk about God’s love. Maybe a timely hug; a hand held at the right moment; or a cup of cold water served to a homeless child of God. Nevertheless, there are still others who ponder the question of what will be etched on a headstone. Will there be a bronze plaque in the church somewhere with my name on it?
When I came across this story about a man planting a tree whose fruit he would not taste, he was thinking of the unknown others before him who did likewise. We are blessed because we stand on the shoulders of many who graced the halls, classrooms, pulpit, choir loft, pews and numerous committees of the church before us. Who, at times, have wondered if their lives by prayers made, presence seen, gifts given, and service rendered in some form or fashion, really made a difference. The answer is yes! I encourage you to reflect on what you will plant and perhaps whose fruit you might not harvest, yet will bless the ones coming after you…in life, in the church, and community. Everyone leaves a legacy. What will yours be?
Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God. (Wm. Carey)
Blessings from Duncanville,
Pastor Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org)