A Legacy of Impact: “It Matters!” (Part 3)

By Jenni Walker and Beth Doohan

A Prayer of Moses the man of God:Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” (Psalm 90:1-2)

“Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children.And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.” (Psalm 90:16-17)

*          *          *          *          *

This past weekend, we celebrated Memorial Day.  This is a day in which many people spend time with family, celebrate the approach of summer, and feel especially patriotic.  And yet, it is a day whose often-lost meaning is sobering.  This is a federal holiday in which to honor the United States soldiers who did not make it home.  It is a day of memorial – a solemn day to remember them, to pray for their loved ones who still hold an ache in their hearts, and to reflect on the power of memory.

As we think about this day and all the sacrifices it represents, it is humbling to ask what kind of impact or legacy will we leave behind? How will God’s work be established through our daily living? Will His message of salvation ring loudest by our stories?

The Man of God

Psalm 90, written by Moses, is entitled, “The Eternity of God and Man’s Frailty.” He wrote this psalm while the Israelites were wandering in the desert waiting for God to lead them to the promised land. In midst of a life surrounded by arid desert and millions of complaining Israelites who so quickly seemed to forget God’s faithfulness, Moses is called “the man of God.”  We recall the way he talked with and heard from Almighty God, the miracles God did through Moses, the parting of the Red Sea, the receiving of the Ten Commandments, and water for parched throats from a desert rock.  But outside of these epic experiences of God, what was Moses doing?  He, too, was walking in the desert, perhaps fighting the urge to complain, and was choosing daily to remember the loving faithfulness of a God whose mercies are new each morning.

As humans made in God’s image, Christians called by God, and wholehearted women in varied seasons of life, we can all grapple at times with the question, “What kind of impact am I really making?” Remember the words of Jesus in John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that the fruit would remain.” When we are living a surrendered life and cultivating a heart of courage and willing obedience, we can trust that God is using us to make an impact for His kingdom.

One Heart at a Time

By God’s design, our impact is often made through relationships one heart at a time, whether as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, mentor, co-worker or friend.  These various roles and relationships are callings from Him, and we might never know the full impact that we have through them. For example, our mom has left a lasting impact on our family through her unwavering love of the Lord and for her family. She and our dad chose to make sacrifices early on so that she could stay home with us and our brother. As a stay-at-home mom, she invested her time, energy, resources and affection into our growth and character-building. Now that we are grown and have families of our own, all three of us are serving the Lord alongside amazing spouses while raising world-changing kids. We can be ever-grateful that our mom chose to spend our younger years teaching and modeling God’s love to us that we might know Him and love Him all our days.

If you are struggling with feelings of inadequacy or are overwhelmed by the calling God has put on your heart, let us encourage you that our strength comes from God. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  He is more than able! No matter what, we can trust that God is working in and through us. If God has placed you somewhere, remain faithful!  He is at work in and through you!

To His Glory

Gladys Aylward was a missionary in China. When she began her work, she was underqualified to say the least. The mission school she attended declared her unfit to serve in China and did not believe she could learn the language. Gladys also faced a more practical barrier of low finances. However, her grit and determination from the call of God on her life kept her bound for China. She eventually made it to an elderly missionary’s inn after traveling by train, bus, mule and on foot. This five-foot tall woman was used by God to become a person of influence for His kingdom purposes. While she had major accomplishments, like running an inn to teach the Gospel to travelers, rescuing abandoned children, and breaking up prison riots, she still faced times where she questioned the impact she was really making.

On one of her prison visits, Gladys encountered a man called Mr. Shan. He was an offensive murderer, full of hatred and obscenity. Gladys prayed for him, but found herself inwardly hating the man. One day, she spotted him in line with the other prisoners and heard God’s voice clearly say to speak with him. For a moment she hesitated, arguing with herself not to do it. But God’s impression was certain, and she reached for Mr. Shan’s shoulder to stop him. In that moment, she blurted out the only thing she could think of, “Oh, Mr. Shan, aren’t you miserable?” Hardly believing what was coming out of her mouth, she told him how happy she was to have Jesus in her heart. Mr. Shan brushed her off and kept walking. Gladys instantly felt shame and depression washing over her. Not only had her words been fruitless, but she had done the unthinkable: in China, no woman ever touched a man in public.

Later, however, a prison convert saw Mr. Shan hunched over, head in his hands. When asked what was wrong, he cried out that the missionary woman had touched him. “She touched me as if she loved me!” he said in amazement. The other prisoner thoughtfully replied, “Yes, I believe she could because she believes that God loves you no matter what you have done” (Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman, chapter 14). After that encounter, Mr. Shan gave his heart to the Lord, which started a revival in the prison, then other prisons, and finally even the governor himself became a believer after seeing the transformative impact made through the Gospel of love shared by a small, seemingly-unqualified woman.

“Mr. Shan was converted, not because of a great sermon, but because years ago in London God had taken a girl and asked her to give Him her hands, her feet, her whole body for His use, and that God had touched Mr. Shan through that poor human instrument” (Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman, chapter 14).

Before Gladys passed away, she wrote, “My heart is full of praise that one so insignificant, uneducated, and ordinary in every way could be used to His glory for the blessing of His people in poor persecuted China” (“Gladys Aylward’s ‘Impossible Mission’ to China” by Christianity Today).

A Lasting Impact

As we remember the lives given to serve and protect our nation, let us also remember that God is using us, just like Gladys Aylward, to make a lasting impact in the area He has called us to serve. We get to be the hands and feet of Jesus toward others and to “let all that I am praise the Lord” (Psalm 103:1). Even if things are challenging or you cannot see the full result of your investment, know that your service is making an eternal impact in others’ lives for God’s kingdom.

Think about someone who has touched your life and thank them for showing God’s love to you. This could be a spouse, parent, pastor or friend. Then pray about the people in your life whom God would have you serve. If you are in a leadership position, whether as a businesswoman, ministry worker, or wife and mother in your home, ask the Lord how you can leave a lasting legacy that will have an eternal impact. How you can be “a woman of God” like Moses was for the Israelites so long ago? Remember, God has a plan and purpose for your life and He is using you as you seek and follow Him with a willing heart!

*          *          *          *          *