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Epitaphs: What will I be remembered for?

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

“But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18

Whenever I need help prioritizing the different aspects of my life, I try to imagine what people who know me will put on my gravestone when I die. Not what I would love to have them put but what they will based on their views of how I lived my life. It is called an epitaph and I have seen one written – obviously without recourse to the one who’s memory was being honored. When my father died, a committee decided that his would be something equivalent to: “You lived for God, our lives are the letters you wrote to the world. Goodnight Daddy”. Every bit of that meant something to those in the committee. An epitaph makes no difference to those for whom they are written, but it is a life summary by witnesses.

Genesis 5 introduces us to the genealogy from Adam to Noah. It feels like the author of Genesis wants to move very quickly away from the sad events prior to this (The fall, Abel’s Murder) and everything after until Noah (by which time we know the world was entrenched in sin). The author of Genesis basically writes an epitaph for everyone in that lineage. Given that the bible is centered around Jesus, these summaries are important to draw a line that would ultimately lead to Christ. Amid the bland descriptions of children names and years lived, one name stands out (to me), Enoch.

“And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” Genesis 5:24
“And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:” Genesis 5:22

To put Enoch’s epitaph in context, there is no record of God communicating to anyone else, asides Enoch, after Cain and until Noah – the biblical gap in that time (given the ages of those listed) is around 2,000 years. In this time, people lived and died, acted as they willed and only one was remembered to have walked with God. Admittedly, the fact that he just disappeared also makes him memorable.

Enoch walked with God, that was his epitaph – not just from man. God noticed and made him an epitaph – God, in taking him, made an eternal epitaph for Enoch. Enoch’s life also puts Proverbs 4:18 in context for me. For most of us, our perfect day – where we shine so bright that we are like God arrives after death, but for Enoch, he achieved this before death. He must have made his walk with God a priority, and he lived that priority until he became one with what he prioritized. A testimony, not just in a manner of speaking but in a matter of being.

The Lesson I take from this is that I will become what I do. My epitaph will be no coincidence, it will be a result of what I prioritize, what I do and then what I become.

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