I wrote my epitaph tonight.
No, I’m not being morbid, or thinking of “the end.” Truthfully, I don’t even want a burial and headstone when this temporal life is done.
But, I was prompted recently to go through the exercise of writing out what my epitaph would say – the idea being to “begin with the end in mind,” you know?
What would the chiseled stone reveal about the life it immortalized? What words would best sum up an entire existence? How would I want it to read? What story would it tell?
It was a good exercise.
As I reflected on it all, my mind drifted to those epitaphs that I have seen on the occasion that I’ve browsed through a cemetery. Admittedly, it is fascinating to wonder about a person and the life they lived:
What were they like? What did they do? Who did they love? Who loved them? What era did they live in? What was life like for them? What impact did they make? Who comes to pay respects to their memory today?
Where are they now?
So many epitaphs attempt to answer these queries as they describe a life lived. Some actually do bring them to life (no pun intended). But sadly, so many more are well…deadly (pun intended) bland.
A Good Man, Husband, Father.
You were loved, and will be missed.
Recognizing the limitations of space on a piece of stone – and having just pondered the enormity of a life summed up in that limited space – I get it. It’s near impossible to capture the fullness of a person in an epitaph.
But I want mine (if not physical, then figurative) to read more.
There is more to life than being a “Beloved ______,” or a “Good _______,” or to even being “loved” and then after, “missed.”
For me, the Life that is “more” actually starts with what the very stone proclaims…
…this person DIED.
I have walked in the realization for some time now that I have already died.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20
Having died, I have further been resurrected into new life. This Life is different from that old life though. This Life is eternal. This Life is not mine.
This Life is Jesus’.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:4-6
I am born of God (1 John 5:18), His child (John 1:12), alive to Him (Romans 6:11), a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17), created in Christ (Ephesians 2:10), a citizen of Heaven (Philippians 3:20).
I am eternal (John 5:24), Free (John 8:36, Galatians 5:1), a Son of God (Romans 8, Galatians 3&4), living by the abundant Life of Another (John 10:10), a Priest (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6), revealing Jesus and His Kingdom into the Earth (Matthew 6:10).
And the most important “________” behind “Beloved” in my bio is “BRIDE” (Ephesians 5:29-32).
So what can an epitaph say about that? What can a few words reveal about a life, already dead, Living anew as an Alien species, displaying the Life of a King from a Future (yet current) Kingdom into the present…
…that is not in fact dead at all, and is even more than still living… eternal?
Everything seems like it would fall flat, short. Nevertheless, here is what I wrote:
Brandon L. Chase
Died in Christ on Calvary. Resurrected in Christ in the tomb. Dead to his humanity long before this body wore out. Lived the abundant LIFE of Another.
During this temporal “mist” inside of eternity – Freedom’s song was sung, Jesus was displayed, and the Kingdom of Heaven was revealed on the Earth.
Son. Priest. Bride.
So, while that may never actually be carved in rock, and stuck in the soil above my buried flesh, it is for today and eternity, how I want this temporal existence to be celebrated, proclaimed, and testified to.
It is, my epitaph.