Joshua 4:21-22 (ESV)
21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’
Ruth Bell Graham was raised in China where her parents were medical missionaries. During this time, the Chinese people resented all foreigners, calling them “foreign devils.” It was common for Ruth to hear of Chinese Christians and missionaries laying their lives down as martyrs for their faith.
In spite of the chaos around them, singing and laughter was often heard coming out of the Bell home. Ruth learned from her parents’ example of prayer and Bible study. Ruth’s parents had the priority to heal souls and bodies of the Chinese, but little did they know, they were helping shape a little girl to become a great woman of God. Their faithful service to their Savior was impacting their daughter. They were leaving a legacy.
In 1937, shortly after Shanghai fell to the Japanese, Ruth said goodbye to her family and left China for Wheaton College. A few months later, she accepted a date with a young man named Billy. After that first date she prayed, “Lord, if You’d let me serve You with that man, I’d consider it the greatest privilege of my life.” The Grahams went on to have perhaps the most well-known evangelistic ministry—Billy to the masses and Ruth to the individual. Their deepest core desire was for people to come to know Christ in a personal way.
The couple had five children. Billy was often traveling for months at a time, so Ruth put her heart into raising their children. Her children watched their father reach the masses and their mother love people—one by one—into God’s family.
Billy summed up her passion well:
"The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”
We see the Israelites crossing the Jordan after 40 years in the wilderness. God rolled back the water and they walked across. What a poignant moment! The barren wilderness behind them and a new chapter before them. God gave specific instructions to bring 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan. Following God’s instructions, they piled them as a sign, a monument, of the miracle God had done. In the future, when the children asked, “What do these stones mean?” they could share the legacy.
What legacy are you leaving your children? How will your children remember you? Will it be a legacy of character and faith—a legacy that shares of God’s goodness?