While watching the dark and strange Mel Gibson flick, "The Beaver" the following line popped out at me:
Quite an obituary you're writing for yourself, eh?
It's the best party question ever - what do you want people to remember about you when you die? The interesting thing about this question is that unless we're complete liars it requires us to honestly and truthfully assess who we are.
What we've done.
What we haven't done.
Our obituary is our testimony. It's our bearing witness to the world of what we believed and how we acted on those beliefs. The problem is that it reveals a glaring reality - inconsistency. We want to be remembered for acting on those deep and enduring values that we have in our hearts but in our actual process of remembering we see that those values rarely travel the distance from our hearts to our hands.
Incongruence. The actions don't match the thoughts or beliefs.
There is a counter to this argument though - and I stumbled on it in Peter's sermon in Acts 10:39-41.
“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead."
Peter is talking about a new insight that he is in the middle of learning - namely, that God has stopped checking passports and is simply welcoming all travelers from all nations into His Kingdom.
Remember, when Peter says "...by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead" he brings up the memory of Jesus looking deeply into his eyes and asking the piercing question:
Do you love me? You betrayed me, I died, but now I'm alive. Do you love me?
This was the greatest failure of Peter's life - one he promised he'd never succumb to - and now in the retelling of his experience with Jesus he has to revisit that beach.
The look in Jesus' eyes.
The pounding of his own heart.
If anything, we have to be better historians of our own failures. The greatest witness we have to give to the world is the fact that though we denied Him at the most inopportune times He still rescued us.
Ate with us.
This idea is pregnant with possibility, because for us to avoid the trap of total and utter hypocrisy we have to find ourselves remembering both our successes and our failures - our congruence with the life of Jesus and our incongruence due to our selfishness and inattention.
The obituary we write is the testimony of a messy life lived in grace.
What will your obituary say about you?