It’s Time to Start Drafting Your Epitaph
This article was first published in the October 2015 edition of Virtuous Daughters magazine.
First, if you are a Christian, you will be welcomed into the arms of a loving Heavenly Father who has been waiting for your arrival. Second, your family will start trying to sum up your life by writing the epitaph for your tombstone.
And they may have to do it in just one sentence.
One sentence to describe your achievements. Your victories. Your joys and maybe even your sorrows. It is a chance to tell what made you YOU. A chance to leave a legacy in stone that will stand the test of time.
One sentence to describe what you did with the life God gave you.
If you died tomorrow, what do you think it would say?
Stop reading for a moment and think about that. What does it say now? What do you want it to say?
Ladies, usually epitaphs are written at the end of a life, but I want to challenge us all to do it the opposite. It’s time to start drafting your epitaph now.
Don’t wait until the end of your life to start drafting your legacy. Your legacy isn’t written when you reach the age of retirement. Your legacy is written while your life is being lived. It’s time to start living your life like you want it to be remembered.
Before you can start drafting your epitaph, you have to answer two key questions. The first is, why am I here? It’s a simple question, but it’s one that we often try to ignore answering, or if we have the courage to answer, spend the rest of our lives consciously or unconsciously avoiding living out.
Sometimes we also get our purpose confused. Instead of focusing on reaching our final destination, we live for the adventures and landmarks along the way.
I dearly love to travel. My happy places are all across the USA and go by three character abbreviations. Airport call letters like ORD, IAH, EWR, CLT, and HOU enrapture my heart when I see them. Also half the fun for me is planning the trip and finding pit stops along the way. Side trips, road stops, and the journey create special memories.
But even though I love these stopovers, it would be ridiculous for me to forget that these aren’t my final destination. Picking apples in a country orchard could not overshadow the mother-daughter conference in Cincinnati that changed lives. Exploring six airports was not the best part of a trip to Thailand to encourage the persecuted church and learn how to be a voice for the impoverished. These were indeed special moments, but they were not my final destination.
Your life will be summed up not by the journey to your destination, but rather whether you reached it.
In the same way, education, marriage, careers, and children are wonderful things on your journey, but they are not the reason why you are on this journey. They are not why you are here.
God didn’t put you on earth to find a lifelong mate, raise up the next generation, or leave the world a better place. God put you here on earth to glorify Him. That is why you were created. That is why Jesus came to earth to die for you.
Ladies, so often we get tangled up in the journey that we forget the destination. We live for those things that are wonderful gifts, but are not THE GIFT. Jesus didn’t come to earth so that you could become Mrs. Right. Jesus didn’t come to earth so you could stay single. Jesus didn’t come to earth so you could change the world.
Those gifts may be given to you now or never. And if they are or are not, that doesn’t change your purpose in life. Your purpose is what Jesus died for, that you might live with Him eternally and glorify Him during your days on earth.
That is not to say that you don’t enjoy the gifts that He gives. It is okay to enjoy your singleness because you are glorifying Him through it. It is wonderful to enjoy your marriage because you are glorifying Him by being an earthly picture of an eternal covenant. Married or single, you should be glorifying Him.
This is why you are here. This is what He wants you to live for. This is what God wants out of your life.
Second question, now that I know why I am here, how do I live it out?
I found this answer by giving God room to work in my life.
God didn’t create robots. We don’t live our lives automatically programmed to do His bidding. Instead, He made mankind with a choice—a choice to live for Him or to live for itself. God will not force you to put Him first in your life.
Glorifying God is a choice. Glorifying God includes an invitation of your own.
Invite God to use you.
It all starts by placing those special gifts on His altar and surrendering them back to the Giver.
One of the gifts that we gals dream about is the gift of marriage. But the gift of marriage may not be your gift. And if not, that’s only because God has another gift that is even better for you. Why long for the good, when the best is just waiting for you to accept it? Likewise, some of us gals (and this may appear totally crazy to some of you) may have to surrender the gift of singleness on God’s altar, too.
For me, this process started by praying a dangerous prayer, one that I felt tempted to immediately “unpray” once I finished! I placed my dreams and desires at His feet and asked Him to do whatever it took in my life for Him to get the ultimate glory. If He could use me more married, please let me get married. But if He could use me more single, please let me stay single.
I prayed it and I meant it. I admit, though, not a year goes by that I’m not tempted to rescind that request at some time or other!
But dear gals, let me share with you why I’ve not changed that prayer. It is because God has answered my prayers and given me a glimpse of WHY I am here. I AM HERE to glorify Him with each and every breath. I AM HERE to live my life with reckless abandonment to His will, eager for the next bend in the road because that is where my Savior is already waiting for me.
Is this life of glorifying Him scary? Some days it is, but only when I’ve forgotten that it comes with a guarantee out of this world. It is guaranteed by the greatest security possible, my Savior, who incidentally is doing all the work, too! “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24
I cannot begin to tell you what a difference this simple prayer of surrender has made in my life. I have never felt freer to live, because I know my loving Father will give me the gifts I need to glorify Him. If that is marriage, it will happen in His timing. If that is children, that will happen, too, even if I think my biological clock is ticking faster and faster! And if that is a life of singleness, bring it on because I know that God is working to fulfill my purpose in life.
The start of writing your epitaph begins with these two things — understanding why you are here and asking God to live that out in your life.
Do these things and your family will not have any trouble finishing the final edits to the epitaph you have been drafting. I’ve started drafting mine: Her life was His and she lived for Him.
What about you?
It’s time to start writing.