The Best Epitaph Ever
Epitaphs are interesting reading. Check out these ones:
Or these, on a more serious note:Winston Churchill: I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. Cecil Rhodes: So much to do, so little done. Epitaph for the unknown soldier, by W.H. Auden: To save your world you asked this man to die: Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
Epitaphs are something I’ve thought about often over the last few months, especially since the death of my cousin in November. These short sentences, graven on cold stone, sum up the whole of one person’s life and death. For sure, more could often and is often said. Biographies are written, journals are produced, letters are read, but an epitaph forgoes the words and aims for the meaning. In one sentence, the legacy of a life is stated, without frills, in sometimes shocking terms.
In my opinion, the best epitaph ever is found in Genesis 5:24, “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Straightforward, unassuming, and incredibly convicting. Few words ever summarized life fulfillment any better, but few people really want them on their tombstone.
Why not? Well, we (I included) want something more. We want some great accomplishment, the thing we did which influenced history, the lives we saved, the book we wrote, the culture we created, not the daily discipline of godliness. After all, it seems like everyone is doing that. The Bible tells us to walk with God so we do, nothing special there. It’s almost as if we relegate Enoch’s life to the level of Mr. Rhodes: Too bad he didn’t do more.
This attitude is going to need to change. In myself first of all. Such a change goes against much of my previous intuition, especially considering that I am about to graduate from college. We all know college graduates are supposed to go out and change the world, right? Anything less would be shameful. No, we must do something great.
In the biblical view, this does not seem to be the case. Look at Micah 6:8, we all know that one. Look at Matthew 4:19. Look at Revelation 2-3, where love for God and devotion to Him is placed above all else. The list goes on. God seems to be far more concerned with our faithfulness to Him and our desire to know Him than with any other thing we could possibly do, even for those who have already put their faith in Christ. Thus, one who evangelizes thousands has nothing over the one who only ends up witnessing to his next-door neighbors, if both are walking with God. The megachurch pastor has nothing over the pastor of a rural congregation who shepherds a tiny flock if both are walking with God. The one who dies on a foreign field has nothing over the one who stays behind to hold the support line if both are walking with God.
You see, the second part of Enoch’s epitaph will happen to all of us. At some point, we will be not (at least not on earth), for God will take us. Whether or not we walk with God is another subject entirely. It is here we must place our effort. Nothing else really matters.