Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15 (NIV)
One of our responsibilities at work is to ensure the obituaries from our newspaper are clipped, glued to an index card and filed in alphabetical order. They are for future researchers looking for a person’s death date and heirs. Most times, we have a group of volunteers from our local genealogical society who complete the task for us. But, on occasion, when a volunteer is not available, we do it. As a result, I have gotten into the habit most days of reading the obituaries. I find it interesting to see what stories I can find about a person in those few inches of text. A few weeks ago, one woman who died was survived by her “soul mate”, a man, and her husband! I can’t imagine such a thing, but there it was in black and white. You can learn a lot about a person from what is or is not written about them after they have died. It tells how we used the dash between our birth and death dates. I’ve been thinking about obituaries this week as I prepared to teach Sunday School tomorrow. I’ve been filling in for our Sunday School teacher for a few weeks, and we have been studying the book of James. Tomorrow we will study Chapter 4 which includes the verses above. As part of our class, I will ask everyone to write their obituary. I hope that it will be a reminder that our days are short and we have a choice how to waste them, spend them or invest them. Husband rolled his eyes when I told him about the activity and asked if he could stay home. I hope the rest of the class doesn’t feel that way. As preparation for the class, I wrote my own as follows.
Born March 18, 1958 in Gainesville, Florida. Survived by her beloved husband of twenty-eight years, two fine sons, her parents, sister, in-laws and many friends. She loved being a wife and mother and cherished her family and friends. She would have been a suberb grandmother. She was a historian for Manatee County, Florida for twenty five years and considered it a privilege to assist her community in preserving its heritage. She started the Manatee County History Fair in 1986 and always said the best days at work were those when she taught and worked with students. She was a fused glass artist, a horsewoman and a writer. Above all, she was a Christian, endeavoring to shine the light of God’s love and grace to all who came across her path. If she succeeded in making 1 Corinthians 13 come alive for her friends and family, then, boast in the greatness of the Lord, for it was because of Him, that she did so. Now, as one of her favorite verses, 1 Corinthians 13:12 states, she no longer sees through a glass darkly, but finally sees face to face.
What about you? Have you thought about what you want your obituary to say? And how are you doing on making it come true?