In 1867, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel invented a new high explosive, which he named "dynamite." He was convinced that his invention would make war too horrible ever to happen again. However, he quickly discovered there was no shortage of buyers for his new explosive. He made a huge fortune from its sales, yet was horrified with the suffering and misery it caused in wars and conflicts. But what was he to do?
Towards the end of the 19th, century he awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local paper: "Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before. He died a very rich man."
Actually, it was Alfred's older brother who had died. A newspaper reporter had confused the epitaph. But the account had a profound effect on Alfred. He decided he wanted to be known for something other than developing a means to kill people efficiently, and for amassing a fortune in the process.
As a result, he initiated the Nobel Prize - an award for scientists and writers who foster peace. Nobel said, "Every man ought to have the chance to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one."
As the new year dawns, you may be sensing the need to correct your unfolding epitaph in midstream. The wonderful news, you can do just that. You can write an entirely new and different ending summary for your life. That is what the new year represents - for you, for me, for everyone.
The great truth is not only that we can do this; but also that we should do this. As Peter admonishes us (2 Peter 3:11-12): “Since everything will be destroyed… what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”
And, as I shared this past Sunday, Paul further cautions us (Ephesians 5:15-17) to... “Be very careful, then, how you live -not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.”
Why not take a few minutes at this time of the year and think about ways you can change your life for the better? Ways that will make a positive difference not only in your life, but also in the lives of others, both for this world and for the world to come?