“But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.” — Acts 13:22
One morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, the man who had spent his life amassing a fortune from the manufacture and sale of weapons, awake to read his own obituary. The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic error.
Alfred’s brother had died, and a French reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him—“the dynamite King (the weapons maker),” the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This—as far as the general public was concerned—was the entire purpose of his life (so said the obituary).
None of his true intentions—to break down the barriers that separate men and ideas—were recognized or given serious consideration. He was quite simply in the eyes of the public a merchant of death, and for that alone he would be remembered…
As he read his obituary with shocking horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. This could be done through the final distribution of his fortune. His last will and testament would be the expression of his life’s ideals…And the result was the most valued of prizes given to this day to those who have done most for the cause of world peace—the Nobel Peace Prize.
In recent days, the truth of this story has captured my heart and caused me to wonder out loud, “How would it read if my obituary suddenly appeared?” I ask you to entertain that frightful thought for a moment. What is your life known for? What will you be remembered for?
I have found that whatever occupies my attention becomes the character of my life. It is what becomes most important becomes my life. So here are a few things I have seen that are pursued:
Popularity.The obsession to be loved by others is an empty pursuit. People are so fickle that what they love one day they despise the next. The same crowd that cried, “Hosanna!” one day cried “Crucify him!” a few days later.
Possessions. What takes a lifetime to accumulate scatters like a covey of quail and the moment of death. What was “yours” becomes “someone else’s.”
Power. Influence and control are powerfully intoxicating motivators in a person’s life. It has been said that power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely. When our lives are focused on something that only God should determine we become corrupt in our pursuits.
Personal relationships. To coin a phrase, many are “looking for love in all the wrong places.” The value of personal relationships is only realized when a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is a reality.
I choose, as David, to let God write my obituary. I choose to let Him shape how others will remember me. What about you?