What do you want your obituary to say?
I know that question seems a little morbid, but stick with me for a minute.
A couple of podcast hosts kicked this very question around recently. The idea is, once you figure out what you want your obituary to say, then you live life in reverse, taking the necessary action to make it happen. Dare I say, living with the end in mind?
The thought behind it is, if you want to be remembered as a loving person, then you better start now. If you want to be remembered as someone who always showed up for people, then you better start showing up.
I wrote my devotional book Finishing Well: Living with the End in Mind with the same premise. The difference is, the book isn't about your legacy – at least not in the "remember me" sense of the word, but rather, it's about giving you ideas about ways you can finish the Christian life well for God's glory.
Here's one of the devotions from the book that you might enjoy.
Finishing the Course
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
When Paul was in Miletus, he called for the elders of the Ephesian church (Acts 20:17) to say goodbye to them and ultimately, to encourage them in the faith. The Holy Spirit was leading him to Jerusalem and he didn’t know what would happen there, but in his second letter to Timothy, he seemed to expect the worst when he said, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6).
Today’s verse captures an essential part of what Paul told the Ephesian elders. As he considered his remaining time on earth, he wanted to finish well by completing the ministry he received from Jesus—to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. He had a clear understanding of the ministry Christ had given him, and he was ready to suffer and even die for it.
Near the end of my grandmother’s life, she was suffering from multiple health problems—congestive heart failure, diabetes, and arthritis to name a few. At one point, when she openly wondered why the Lord hadn’t taken her home, she concluded that he still had work for her to do here. I suspect it had to do with her fully investing her remaining time and prayers into one of her great-grandchildren with special needs, and if you would have asked my grandmother, she would have said her suffering was an acceptable price to pay to do that.
Oh, how I wish my grandmother would have lived long enough to see her great-granddaughter grow up and have a son of her own now—one who also has special needs. Even though she didn’t get that opportunity, I suspect that she spent time praying for him long before he was ever born because that was the ministry she had received from Christ.
When she was younger, she spent decades serving in a church nursery. As she aged and gave way to a younger generation in the nursery, her focus was on praying for the next generation. Both were vital.
What is the ministry you have received from the Lord Jesus Christ? Has it changed as you’ve gotten older? As you think about finishing well, how can you be intentional about making that ministry a priority? Are you willing to suffer to do so if that’s what you are called to do? What are you willing to give up for it? Freedom? Comfort? Something else?