I have been blessed to participate in a small group for Bible study with my husband over the last couple of years. This past week, as often happens, our conversation ranged from actually following the study guide to topics that were weighing on people’s minds. We ended up in a discussion about our purpose and our focus in life, and ended (pun intended) with the question:
What would you want to have someone say about you at your funeral or be inscribed on your tombstone?
That is a question that can make you very uncomfortable as you try to consider how you would want to be known. What’s your legacy? What would you ideally like to represent your life when it comes to an end and Jesus calls you home? The discomfort of considering that question gave me pause, but led to a rich discussion. With permission from our group members, I wanted to list the sometimes deep, sometimes funny and often faith-full epitaphs they shared:
- God loved me enough to bring me home.
- Jesus walked her home.
- She pointed to Christ.
- Overcame and came out stronger in Christ.
- He loved generously.
- I win – I got there first!
- We decided he is as smart as he thought he was.
- After all these years he got it right – further proof that God is good.
Our study pointed us to what could have been Paul’s eulogy in 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Paul’s comments in this passage are so appropriate. In living a life that is surrendered to God and filled with HIS purpose, we know we might face fights…..a long race….and the need to persevere. None is easy to accomplish. And all during this time, we might be focused on sowing the seeds of God’s love with others, never knowing what the impact of our efforts might be. We won’t know until we get to heaven.
What this entire discussion reminded me is that I need to keep my eye on the ultimate prize – the end of my life and my homecoming with my Father. Being focused, surrendered to God and trusting in Him will help me reach that “epitaph” I might envision for myself. Because ultimately, our ending is our beginning.
A personal note: My family knows that the photo of the tombstone above holds special meaning; it is the stone that marks my younger sister’s grave. My parents chose the best message to epitomize her and the message of this devotion – she was a child of God.