Everyone leaves behind a legacy for those who follow after. Parents leave a legacy for their children, pastors leave a legacy for their congregation, and teachers leave a legacy for their students. Some leave wealth, some leave power and fame, some leave values and beliefs, some leave behind shame. The decisions we make in the present help determine the answer to the question…what will your legacy be?
Mary Breckinridge was leaving a legacy, though she was likely too busy saving lives in the Appalachian Mountains to stop and consider it. Her own legacy included a grandfather, John C. Breckinridge, who served as vice-president under James Buchanan. By 1920, her own life had taken many turns: widowhood, a divorce, and the deaths of her two children. Determined to become a nurse and ease the suffering of others, her legacy continued.
Mary had begun by helping French refugees during WW1 and was taken with the plight of the children who were victims of the tragedies of war. She began a study of midwifery that led to the implementation of better healthcare for families in eastern Kentucky through her founding of The Frontier Nursing Service in 1925.
Mary Breckinridge is credited with the following: the delivery of 3,000 babies without one maternal death from childbirth, help in the distribution of 90,000 vaccinations for the prevention of disease, and the overseeing of chlorination to many family wells—ensuring pure drinking water. She also helped to raise 1 million dollars to be used in the betterment of healthcare in needy rural communities through the gaining of private donations. The Mary Breckinridge Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital still provides life-serving urgent care today in rural Kentucky.
There a many names throughout history known for the legacy they left behind: whether for good or evil. Their names are familiar to the history books, their deeds still talked about centuries later. But we all leave a legacy behind, and what we do makes a lasting difference. It is true that how we start in life holds less importance than how we finish, but our legacy will be those things that we do in the middle…
Leaving a legacy for our families and others over whom we have influence is a responsibility and a privilege. The most valuable and lasting legacy we can leave is a spiritual one of faith in Christ and service to God: a legacy with eternal impact:
So, dear brothers, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen, and then you will never stumble or fall away. And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I plan to keep on reminding you of these things even though you already know them and are really getting along quite well! But the Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that my days here on earth are numbered, and I am soon to die. As long as I am still here I intend to keep sending these reminders to you, hoping to impress them so clearly upon you that you will remember them long after I have gone. 2 Peter 1: 10-15
It’s not too late to leave a spiritual legacy to those who will follow in your footsteps…what will you do today to ensure that you leave a legacy of steadfast faith for those you care about?