One of my all-time favorite sporting moments was the Bob Beamon “Miracle Leap.”
In the 1968 Olympic Games held in Mexico City, 22-year-old Bob Beamon astounded the world when he soared 29 feet 2 1/2 inches in the long jump, nearly two feet farther than any man had ever jumped before. That record, which stood for almost 23 years, is one of the most extraordinary accomplishments in the history of sports. For a finely-tuned athlete to exceed the previous best mark by such a magnitude is virtually inexplicable in the natural realm. It seems Bob Beamon would concur. A few moments after walking from the landing pit, he looked back and, overcome by the significance of what he had just achieved, collapsed in a heap of emotion. After several minutes, his competitors literally had to lift him to his feet. That image of him–so overwhelmed with equal parts joy and utter disbelief–made a lasting impression on the heart of this then eight-year-old year old boy. In the sporting world today, accomplishing an amazing athletic feat is still often referred to as beamonesque.
Fast-forward 45 years and imagine my elation upon hearing that my son, a videographer by profession, received an invitation to make a short film on the life and legacy of–you guessed it–Bob Beamon. Was I proud? You bet. But no sooner had I expressed my excitement than an ignoble train of thought, somewhat along these lines, came to mind: “Wait a minute. He was my hero. It was my sports moment. I hope my son appreciates this opportunity, because it sure would have meant a lot to me.”
Two weeks after that less-than-stellar contemplation, the filming was completed. My son had just arrived back home when I received the following text: “Pops, got to hold Bob Beamon’s gold medal, saw the Olympic torch he carried, and as I was leaving he gave me a hug and said ‘be cool my brother.’” As I read that text, unexpected tears welled in my eyes. I was indeed very proud and happy for my son. But what also struck me was how blessed I was to have met the great Bob Beamon. You read that correctly! I had just met Bob Beamon. My son’s message, when translated in my heart, said as much: “We did it Pops. We just held the medal, saw the torch, and got to hear ‘be cool my brother’ from a legend.” You see, if my son did those things, I did them too.
Genesis 12:1-3 is a momentous passage detailing the everlasting covenant between God and Abraham. One could spend a lifetime mining its depths, but as it relates to our subject, one notable concept stands out–we learn that the generations that came after Abraham were going to be blessed through him. What’s more, there was to be a reciprocal blessing, whereby God was going to bless Abraham through the generations to follow. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines legacy as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” The Bible expands this definition relative to Abraham. In a very real sense, Abraham’s legacy to his ancestors was also their legacy to him. This two-way relationship works the same way with our children. The legacy we leave behind will live on through future generations, even as, astonishingly, it reaches back to us in the present.
As I reflect on this truth and relate it to my son’s meeting with Bob Beamon, I now begin to scan other memories: I remember witnessing a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Galway, Ireland; the times I’ve entertained others with the sweet sounds of the piano; and how I played my heart out for my high school volleyball team. Yet my body has never done any of those things. Instead, I’ve experienced all of this in a manner way more meaningful–through the legacy of my children. And I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.
To be clear, I’m not talking about living our lives through our children. Everyone has to live his own life. I’m talking about being blessed by the simple fact that they get to live them. And to us as parents, every one of their God-honoring accomplishments, no matter how great or small, is cause for celebration. In fact, one might go so far as to call them beamonesque.
I hope this encourages you to celebrate your legacy today.
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