I’m not sure many sports carry the sense of legacy that NASCAR does. There are legendary racing families in NASCAR that have spanned several generations. The racing fever gets in their blood. Fathers introduce their sons and daughters to the sport and they never leave. Because the NASCAR teams compete against each other every weekend, there is a sense of community that exists as in no other sport. In no other sport do the same small number of competitors face off week after week. Generational bonds are easily formed and rarely broken.
Can You Spell L-e-g-a-c-y?
Think about the way Jesus Christ carried out the legacy of love His heavenly Father passed on to Him—and the way He desired to pass on that same legacy of love to us (note especially the emphasized portions):
“And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. . . . And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:22-24, 26).
Jesus told His disciples, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). There are three generations of a legacy even before Jesus returned to the Father. Jesus received the legacy from His Father and passed it on to His disciples, whose job it became to pass it on to their own physical and spiritual children all over the world.
Legacy Is Spelled L-o-v-e
I believe the children of NASCAR drivers catch the vision of their fathers for the same reason Jesus’ disciples caught His vision: love. In the case of Jesus’ legacy, the legacy itself is love—love for God. But love is also the method for passing on that legacy. Love is both the means and the end.
When children see their parents doing things they genuinely love to do, things that make them happy, things they sacrifice to be part of, things they talk about constantly, things that make them laugh and enjoy life . . . those children stand a good chance of catching the love-bug and enjoying those same things as well.
Thankfully, love of God is not a vocation. Parents have a life-changing opportunity to pass along a lifestyle . . . a worldview . . . a mindset . . . a faith that can be carried throughout life regardless of what a child chooses to pursue vocationally.
But what if a child rejects that legacy in spite of his parents’ best efforts to pass it along? As a pastor, I have seen parents grieve and live guilt-ridden lives over what appears to be a break in a family legacy of faith. In such cases, parents have to remember that they are not responsible for their children’s faith, that God’s plans for our children are not ours to know, that God can make up for the “years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25), and that unbelieving children very, very often return to the faith of their fathers. Indeed, children who enter adulthood without Christian faith and are buffeted by life’s waves often end up as much stronger believers once they do embrace Christ. They’ve tried life without Him and found it wholly unsatisfactory.
So don’t be discouraged, dear parent! God’s eternal purposes do not depend on us. Wherever you are in the legacy chain of passing on the love of God to your children and grandchildren, continue walking in the love of Christ. Leave your children the lasting legacy of love that the Father left His Son, and that He has left to us.