“None of us knows when we will die. But any one of us, if we wish, may select our own epitaph. I have chosen mine. It is, I should confess, a somewhat haunting thing to think about your gravestone while you are vitally alive. Yet there it is, a vivid image in my mind and heart, standing as both a glorious inspiration and an epic challenge to me: 100X.
It means 100 times. I have taken it for myself from the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. I’m an entrepreneur, and I want to be remembered as the seed that was planted in good soil and multiplied a hundred fold. It is how I wish to live. It is how I attempt to express my passions and my core commitments. It is how I envision my own legacy. I want to be a symbol of higher yield, in life and in death.
Saint Augustine said that asking yourself the question of your own legacy—What do you wish to be remembered for?—is the beginning of adulthood. That is what I have done by writing my own epitaph…what about your epitaph? What have you been given, and what will you do with it the rest of your life?” (Bob Buford, Half Time, 1994)
Bob Buford wants to be known for how well he lived his life for God – that with what he was divinely given, he hoped to multiply it a hundred-fold for God’s glory. That’s a very high goal indeed. But not everyone lives that way.
In 2 Chronicles 21.20, it states, “[King Jehoram] was thirty-two years old when he began to reign; he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. He departed with no one’s regret. They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” King Jehoram was the crown prince for 32 years of his life and then became king over the nation of Judah for eight years. He grew up in privilege and power, but when it was all said and done, there was not much to write about. And so the Bible records simply that “he departed with no one’s regret.” No one regretted his passing! I am flabbergasted. I wrote on the side of my Bible next to this text: “Life of Insignificance.” That's because Jehoram had so much going for him.
Let me tell you more about King Jehoram. His grandfather was King Asa and he reigned for 41 years. For all his ups and downs, he was still declared good in God's eyes. His son, and Jehoram's father, Jehoshaphat took over and he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. For his faithfulness, he was blessed with a long reign of 25 years. During Jehoshaphat’s glorious reign, he strengthened Judah and brought fear to her neighbors. He amassed great wealth and power, right faith and peace in the land. And he proudly left it all for his first son, Jehoram.
And so Jehoram had it all; it was as if life came to him in a room-sized silver platter. Being the first born, he was born as the crown prince, heir apparent, prepared and groomed to be the next king. His grandfather had established faith and worship in the land. His father added to it by extending the borders and establishing peace. Jehoram was given all this blessing with the expectation of his people and of his God to do something great!
For all of that, we are left disappointed: “he departed with no one’s regret.”
He had a great opportunity to make a difference, and he dropped the ball. He had everything! And yet, he accomplished nothing of worth. He had lived a “life of insignificance.” We weren't the only ones disappointed wit him. We read that his own people viewed him with contempt: “They buried him in the city of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.” How sad is that…
And we must turn that table to ourselves. How are we doing? First thing we must ask is, how blessed is our life? How much have we been given? We must begin with recognizing the generous hand of God in our lives. And the second thing we ask is, so, with what has been given to us, how are we doing with it? Is there a multiplication of our "talents," or have we simply buried them in the dirt? (Matthew 25, Parable of the Talents).
|2002. Cemetery on a hill at Kyrgyzstan|
God has prepared us. He has groomed us. He has given us all that we need to excel. And He has given us the Holy Spirit to make a great difference, to make our lives wonderfully significant, to make a world-sized impact for Christ! How amazing is that?
For all my American friends, we have been given so much. We have the freedom to practice faith. We live in the richest country in the world. We have opportunities that the world only dreams about at night. So what are we doing with all of that? Are we living a life of purpose and significance?
So what’s going to be on your epitaph? How will people remember you?