What Do You Want on Your Tombstone?

tombstoneHave you ever walked through a cemetery and noticed what people have on their tombstones?  As a pastor in Key West, I spent a lot of time in the Key West cemetery.  I found several odd tombstone inscriptions there.  One says, “Devoted fan of Julio Iglesias.”  Two of the most popular inscriptions are on the front of the same mausoleum.  They are, “I’m just resting my eyes!” and “I told you I was sick!”

This time of year we include a few classic holiday movies as part of our preparations.  One that has been re-told many times is “A Christmas Carol.”  The main character, Scrooge, is taken by the Ghost of Christmas Future to the cemetery where he sees his own grave.  Scrooge realizes that he has changed into a mean, selfish man.  He doesn’t want to be greedy anymore.  He cries out to the ghost, “I am not the man I was.  I will not be the man I must have been but for this visitation.  Why show me this if I am past hope?”  He continues, “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which if persevered in, they must lead.  But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”

Scrooge is an extreme.  We’re not as selfish and greedy as he was but there are probably some areas in our life we wish would be different.  The lesson for us is that there is still time to change.

If we change our lives now, the future will change.  We have the chance to write how our life will end.  We can make course corrections before it is too late.

Play Out Our Movie

Psychologist and author Henry Cloud calls this “playing out the movie.”  (See: 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Life.)   Each of us is living out the  movie of our lives.  We get to determine each scene.  We get to shape to a large degree how it will end.  Wise people think about their ending all the time.  We’re  moving toward the final climactic scene.

When we play out the movie, we see that every scene is a link in the context of the entire story.  Every scene is a step in a direction that has a destination.  We can’t stop the movie, but we can determine what our life looks like at the end.

Playing the movie enables us to see the good things that can happen.

We have a choice in the direction of our lives and our beliefs and actions determine the outcomes.

The late actor, John Wayne’s grave marker inscription reads, “Tomorrow is the most  important thing in life.  Comes into us at midnight very clean.  It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands.  It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”

May it be so for us too!