My wife, Sally, and I visited the cemetery in Macau, China, where Robert Morrison and his first wife, Mary, are buried. Robert Morrison was the first Protestant missionary to China. He lived 52 short years and died in Canton in 1834.
During his twenty-five years of work as a missionary he translated the whole Bible into the Chinese language and baptized ten Chinese believers. Today there are an estimated 180 million Chinese followers of Jesus Christ – amazing fruit for a man who only baptized 10 converts in his lifetime.
Robert Morrison focused on Jesus his whole life. Just Jesus. During the 27 years he served in China he kept his focus on Jesus. He went home on furlough only once in all those years.
When Robert Morrison was asked, shortly after his arrival in China, if he expected to have any spiritual impact on the Chinese... his answer was: “No sir, but I expect God will!”
He did what he did for Jesus. He knew there was no other cause worthy of the sacrifices he was to make – and he made some big ones.
Part of the inscription on his tombstone reads, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord...that they may rest from their labors and their works shall follow them.”
Robert Morrison’s works followed him – 180 million people in China are following him to heaven. It all began with him going to China as an act of devotion to Jesus.
Suppose it was your tombstone in that cemetery in Macau. How would you want it to be inscribed?
I have often pictured myself watching my own funeral service, wondering what I would like people to say about me after I am gone. Sometimes I even write my own epitaph. This is not morbid preoccupation with myself, as strange as it sounds, but rather a way to stay focused on what is most important to live for while I’m still here. It is my way of finding focus in the midst of many competing passions.
We were created to live for something greater than ourselves, and only in Jesus will we find that “something.” Only by focusing on Jesus will our works follow us to heaven.
Take time now... choose a few phrases you want spoken about you when your family and friends gather to celebrate your life. Write them down. Reflect on them. Now, with this fresh focus, go back into the race of life and give your heart to that which you want to follow you when you die.