Yesterday the guy on the radio let us know that it was “plan your epitaph day.” An epitaph is a saying on your gravestone that says something about who you were, what you believed, what you accomplished or a message to those you left behind.
I don’t think I will be dictating what I want put on my tombstone… but I believe that every day I am contributing to what that piece of rock might say. What will I be known for when I am gone? Am I leaving a legacy? What small things today line up with the larger goal and vision for my life?
It’s so easy to let little things slide and think it won’t matter much at the end of your life. Things like: praising your spouse publically, going the extra mile to ask your kid another question when they have clammed up, praying with someone in need on the spot, using your last dollar to buy a homeless person a cup of coffee or resisting temptation to interrupt when someone is talking. In the moment these small acts of love don’t always get noticed, but a lifetime of them will undoubtedly be seen and appreciated.
I stand at the grave of many people for my job and hear the things that others say about their loved ones. It is seldom generosity gifts that are mentioned, but people rave about thoughtful gifts given in a timely fashion. Grieving ones don’t usually extol the fact that their loved one overworked and was away from home – they talk about the meaningful dinners, vacations, ball games and phone calls when their heart or their leg was broken. I have never heard a family brag about how popular the one who died was with people in our city. Fame is not a prize in death, but intimacy with a few friends and family leaves an example for generations to follow.
Jesus’ entire life was marked by sacrifice (ending in his death). As dearly loved children, we are to be imitators of God. What kind of epitaph would you be writing if you started really giving yourself away? What legacy will you leave in your family?
You love others when you pay attention to the details of life. What small things do you need to pay closer attention to so that you can love others better? Perhaps noting the preferences of others & then coordinating and giving those things or experiences? This all requires asking good questions, listening well and remembering so that you can be a blessing later.
I don’t know what the full epitaph on my gravestone will be – but I am aiming for it to say something about love.
- Andrew Burchett, Lead Pastor