Living Our Epitaphs


It might sound morbid, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the end of my life lately. Not because I’m in a hurry to get there…although the thought of Heaven does become more appealing every day! I’ve been thinking more toward the conclusion of my days on earth both because I’ve attended more than my share of funerals lately, and because I’ve begun to realize that the end of our lives should be a period at the end of a very important sentence. What that sentence says will, or should, sum up the purpose of our lives – that for which we spent them.

Maybe because I am a crafter of words, what people will say about me at the end of my days with them seems like an incredibly weighty matter. It makes me want to be all the more intentional to live in such a way that they will be able to say one thing, above all else, stood out in my life. I want to make it easy for them to identify the mark I aimed to leave in their hearts. What’s more, I want to aim to leave a mark, not just journey aimlessly through and hope to leave some lasting impression.

In a book I was reading recently, a question about this very thing was posed: What do you hope people will say about you (and your marriage/family) when you die? 

Pause here, and take that question into the marrow of your soul. Can you answer it with clarity? Do you know why you’re alive? Do you know the mark you were intended to leave in the lives of others? And are you moving toward it with every passing day – with intentionality, or just drifting through, hoping you’ll somehow make that mark in the end?

It’s hard to aim for a target you can’t see clearly. Until that question was posed, I couldn’t see mine very clearly at all. There are handfuls of things I want to accomplish, which – because prayer and wise counsel are a critical part of my journey – seem to be at least semi-related. But I haven’t put much thought into really narrowing in on the point of it all. Yes, I am living to glorify God. Yes, I am striving daily – in His grace – to be a light to the world around me. But what, specifically, have I been sent for? What will the summary of all I say and do in this lifetime be boiled down to say?

Here is the epitaph I am seeking to live out in all of my days:

I want people to be able to say that my life, and my marriage and family, gave them hope to be able to believe that what God has promised in His Word is actually possible.

When people reflect on my life – my struggles as well as my victories, what I want to stand out most is a faith that endured, and a contentment that was tangible because of God’s Presence. I want them to remember the way I walked – in faithfulness to God, and the way that He deeply satisfied me, so that I didn’t have to think of swerving to the left or the right. I want them to see a life that was rooted in righteousness, and the deep peace that comes from walking with God, and reaping the blessings of it.

Identifying this, the epitaph I am aiming for, has brought clarity to my daily life. It makes the steps between now and then more identifiable. It takes a grand and lofty goal, and breaks it down into day-by-day aims I can focus on. It keeps the end in mind as I interact with others and make decisions. It’s like following an outline as I cooperate with God in the writing of my story – which has already been pre-written. So in truth, it is an automatic alignment with Heaven’s record of my predestined life. It ensures, as I lean into the leadership and help of God’s Spirit, that I will hit the target I am aimed for.

Dear Woman of Breakthrough, what epitaph do you hope to leave behind when it’s your time to graduate into eternity? Are you living it out daily, moving toward it with every decision and interaction, or are you blindly hoping you will just end up with the right statement on your tombstone one day?

God has crafted your life and aimed you toward a specific mark. Your life has a purpose that is bigger than the work you do and the accomplishments you accumulate. What you leave behind will continue to speak of your influence in the world, long after you’re gone. What is engraved in stone must first be engraved upon your heart. This is not something to leave to chance and happenstance, when the God of Heaven and Earth has marked you to leave an intentional mark.

I pray today that you will give some time and space to thinking and praying about this. Ask God what He intends for your life to impart, and write it down, so you keep it before you and aim to live toward it every day. It will give meaning and joy to your daily endeavors, even when there is drudgery in them. It will lend a fresh beauty and inspiration to even your most tedious tasks.

It is not morbid, but wise to think on such things. Scripture attests to this in Ecclesiastes 7:2 when it says,

“It is better to go to a funeral than a feast. For death is the destiny of every person, and the living should take this to heart.” (NET Bible)

We don’t tend to think of death as a destiny, but maybe we should. It is the bow that God wraps our lives in before they are given away for the last time. It is the crowning touch on the perfection He designed. Just as we take great care in not only picking great gifts for the people we love, but also wrap them extravagantly, hoping to pique their interests and draw their awe and appreciation toward what’s inside, so our epitaphs are meant to invite others to imagine and appreciate the lives behind them. Why not invest ourselves in making them incredible?!

God has much planned for us, through the daily ups and downs of our lives. It is not the circumstances that matter, but the way in which we live and respond to and through them. Those responses to life as we know it are writing our epitaphs, and crafting a conclusion to our life stories. May God be glorified as you ponder the end of your days, and seek to live in alignment with the target He is aiming you for. May your epitaph be true of the you He has designed, and may your daily life reflect it with renewed purpose and utmost clarity.

{Photo images courtesy of}


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