“The Lord said, ”Well done, my good and faithful servant." ~ Matthew 25:21
There’s a reason journalists at major newspapers pre-write the obituaries of famous people. They want them to be great! Can you imagine the horror of reading one’s own obituary – and it was bad … really bad? Think about that for a moment while I digress.
Young Alfred watched the explosion with childlike curiosity. It wasn’t its noise, power or intensity that captivated him. It was the challenge. As a neophyte chemist, he was determined to produce nitroglycerin, a violently explosive liquid, for practical use. Nitro in the mid-1800s was so unstable that the slightest jolt, impact or friction caused it to spontaneously detonate.
To make its handling less dangerous, Alfred tested countless additives. Ultimately he found that mixing nitro with clay turned the liquid into a paste that could formed into rod-like shapes. He patented his invention “dynamite.”
The new, safer explosive immediately found many industrial uses, such as mining, quarrying, and demolition. But when WWI broke out, dynamite began fueling war machines on both sides.
Despite being a pacifist, his factory continued producing nitroglycerin-based explosives, defending this incongruity by saying he was trying to produce weapons so destructive that no-one would dare use them - thus eliminating war.
When his brother Ludvig died in 1888, a French newspaper erroneously published Alfred’s obituary by mistake. Imagine his shock when he read the headline “The Merchant of Death is Dead.” It went on to say that “he’d become rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.”
Horrified to read that he’d be remembered for eternity as the man who indirectly caused so much death and carnage, Dr. Alfred Nobel decided that history should remember his name for a greater purpose. He devised a plan to devote 94% of his estate (about $265 million) to a series of prizes for “those who’ve … conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.”
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been honoring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace.
No eulogy ever says s/he dressed well, lived extravagantly, took fabulous vacations, drove an expensive car, or built the most expensive home. Those who are most mourned are people who enhanced the lives of others. They were kind and loving. They had a keen sense of their duties.
When they could, they gave to charity. If they couldn’t give money, they gave time. They were loyal friends and committed members of communities; people you could always count on. They were the essence of lives well lived.
What will be your legacy? How would you like to be remembered? Will you be missed?
Father, I love to be in control and cling to anxiety with stubborn pride. Show me how to be more like Your son Jesus so that You will be glorified! It’s a daily battle that can only be won with Your grace - not by my own determination and desire. Amen