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  • Writer's pictureRevShirleyMurphy

A Life That Matters

One morning in 1888, Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, the man who had spent his life amassing a fortune from the manufacture and sale of weapons of destruction, awoke to read his own obituary. Of course, it was a mistake. Alfred's brother had died, and the reporter inadvertently wrote Alfred's obituary.

For the first time, Alfred Nobel saw himself as the world saw him – "the dynamite king," the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This, as far as the general public was concerned, was the entire purpose of his life. None of his true intentions surfaced. Nothing was said about his work to break down the barriers that separated persons and ideas. He was, quite simply, a merchant of death, and for that alone would he be remembered.

Alfred read the obituary with horror. He felt that the world must know the true meaning and purpose of his life. He resolved to do this through his last will and testament. The final disposition of his fortune would show the world his life's ideals. And at that time came into being yearly prizes for chemistry, physics, medicine, literature – and the famous Nobel Peace Prize.

If you were to read your own obituary today, what would it say? Do others know what you stand for, what you believe in and what truly matters to you?

Dr Philip Humbert asks, "What remarkable, extraordinary and amazing things will you do with this wild and wonderful miracle, your one and only life?" I believe that the question should also be asked this way: "What will you do with this wild and wonderful miracle, your one and only DAY?" For its increasingly clear to me that the decisions I make every day, even little decisions, will decide how my life will eventually turn out.

The people who are most mourned are not the richest or the most famous, or the most successful. They are people who enhanced the lives of others. They were kind. They were loving. They had a sense of their responsibilities. When they could, they gave to charitable causes. If they could not give money, they gave time. They were loyal friends and committed members of communities. They were people you could count on.

In Herman Wouk's World War II novel, The Caine Mutiny, Willie, the central character, is serving in the Navy when he receives a letter from his father, who is about to die from cancer. Reflecting upon his life, one in which he achieved much less than he had expected to as a young man, he cautions his son, “Remember this, if you can: There's nothing, nothing, nothing more precious than time. You probably feel you have a measureless supply of it, but you haven't. Wasted hours destroy your life just as surely at the beginning as at the end, only at the end it's more obvious.”

God decides how long our chapter on earth is going to be; it’s up to us to make every paragraph and sentence count. Immortality lies not in how long you live but in how you live. Every day is a gift from God, and we should use it to the fullest—to celebrate life and become a blessing to others.

If, God forbid, you were to leave the world tomorrow, what would your obituary say? Would it read the way you want it to read?

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