In 1867 Albert Nobel invented dynamite. It was an invention that revolutionised warfare and the construction and quarrying industries, it also made him a billionaire.
In 1887 Albert’s brother died. A Swedish newspaper got mixed up over which brother had died and published the following headline THE MERCHANT OF DEATH IS DEAD above an obituary to Albert. Albert was deeply upset when he realised how many people would remember him, that his legacy was mainly connected to death and destruction.
Nobel as a result decided that he would rewrite his epitaph. He would do something that would mean people in the future would not simply remember him as being the inventor of high explosives. He set up and then left most of his wealth to a foundation which would offer prizes for people who improved the lives of humanity. That means that today most of us remember Albert Noble as the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize or the various Nobel prizes for science rather than as a Merchant of Death.
I was reading Hebrews 11 recently, its in a sense a chapter of epitaphs. Some of the great figures of Scripture are held up to us as examples in following God and living out our faith. One of those biblical heroes is Moses. Moses is remembered in Hebrews 11 for leading God’s people out of Egypt and across the Red Sea. He is remembered as an inspiring and courageous leader of God’s people. The interesting thing is that he is not remembered for killing an Egyptian. At one point in his life Moses gained a reputation as a violent hot head but like Albert Nobel he rewrote his epitaph, so we now primarily remember his obedience to God and bravery in standing up to Pharaoh.
So, let me ask you a question. If someone who knew you really well was to write your epitaph today, what would they write? What will you be remembered for?
If the answer to that question makes you feel uneasy. remember just like Moses and Albert Nobel you can rewrite your own epitaph starting today.