2012-07-12 / Church


(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

What Do You Want on Your Tombstone?

Theodore believed in being prepared. Even before he got sick, he had his paperwork in order: Do-Not- Resuscitate order, living will, legal will, and power of attorney. He had a family plot in the local cemetery. His memorial service had been planned for years.

When Theodore succumbed to cancer, his four sons handled things in expert fashion. They carried out their father’s wishes to the last detail.

At the graveside service, Theodore’s youngest son Ralph came up to me wide-eyed and trembling.

“Ralph, are you all right?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he responded. “As you were praying, I looked down and found I was standing on my own grave marker. My name and birth date are on it. I guess Dad did that.”

He shuddered. “That’s a little too prepared for me,” he added.

It reminded me of those old “What-do-you-want-on-your-tombstone?” pizza commercials. A sobering question crossed my mind: What would God write on my gravestone?

People say things to us and about us, but I believe only God knows fully who we are. If He made us, He alone has the right to define us. It’s His opinion that matters. I know, if I’m going to live successfully, I need a death-grip (pardon the pun) on who God says I am.

Standing on our own grave marker can be a good thing. It can help us prepare and live with great meaning. Today is new, coming to life right before our eyes.

What will be on our tombstone?

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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