Have you ever thought about your funeral, or what people will be saying about you on that day? It may seem like a morbid and depressing thought. Maybe for some, it feels like something far off that needn’t be worried about now. But it was a thought many of us were challenged to think about this past Sunday.
I have to be honest, at twenty-three, my funeral (let alone my eulogy!) is not something I’ve often thought about. Yet we’re faced with an eye opening truth: our eulogies are in fact being written right now. So what kind of legacy are you leaving behind? I think it’s safe to say that most people want to be remembered for good things like being kind, caring, and loving. I know those are all things I want! Some more specific answers popped into my head pretty quickly, too. There are many things I strive for, but one in particular is to be a person of godly character. This is especially tough to live out; for example, when I was driving home from a sermon and reacted to another driver in a not so Christ-like way. (And ironically Josh had even talked about reacting nicely to people while driving! Epic Fail on my part!) So the question we would do well to contemplate is, “What am I doing now to ensure how I am remembered when I am gone?”
The past two months we have been looking at the life of Joseph and we finally got to see him at the end of his life; as God’s finished work of art. And what we found is nothing short of one of God’s glorious masterpieces. Joseph’s life is a shining example of what it looks like to be living in the “now” but also for the future.
We can clearly see this in a choice he made after his father died. Joseph was the second most powerful man in all Egypt. He could have gone unchecked and taken justifiable revenge on his brothers without the worry of what his father would think. That was exactly what his brothers thought and they were afraid. But as we know that is not how it happened. His response was amazing:
‘But Joseph replied, ‘Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I should punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.’ So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.’ (Genesis 50: 19-21).
How amazing is that? Talk about Godly character and wanting to leave a great legacy, even after he had been wronged in such horrific ways. I genuinely hope that one day I can have even an ounce of that kind of mercy and compassion. I sit here and think of how many times have I mistreated someone just because I took offense to something they said. Or waited until it suited me to show forgiveness to someone. The list can go on and on. The point is: it’s not enough to say how you want to be remembered. You have to put it into action and live it out because how you live now is how you will be remembered. You eulogy is bring written now; don’t wait until the last couple days of your life.
When I think about the legacy I want to leave it’s not so different from Joseph’s. However when I look at how I live life, I can get discouraged. I would much rather be God’s finished work than take all the steps to get there. But like every legacy, it does not happen overnight. The person Joseph was when he spoke so kindly and reassuringly to his brothers did not happen in just a couple years; but several! The person God molded him into was a lifelong process. Joseph saw that and we should too. Being aware of that process can give us comfort in knowing that we are all a work in progress and will continue to be until the day we die. But we also need to see how our behavior and choices in this moment can greatly affect the legacy we leave behind.
So thinking about your eulogy can be depressing, but only if you let it. The same God who had his hand over Joseph is the same God who has his hand over you and me. No matter your age or how bad you’ve messed up, God can wipe our slates completely clean and make us new. It’s a long process, but one worthwhile.
‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ (Ephesians 2:10)
Remember, your legacy and eulogy is being written right now!
Katrina McElvain is the daughter of Trisha, and eldest of her siblings Grace and JP. She loves spending time with family and friends, watching movies, dancing, and writing. She teaches dance at night and is a teacher’s aide by day. She also loves Immanuel and listening to the sermons every Sunday morning.