Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to read about your own death? Dr. Alfred Nobel got to experience that feeling one day in 1888 when he opened up a French newspaper and was startled to find his own obituary. Nobel’s brother, Ludvig, had died the day before, but several newspapers erroneously published Alfred’s obituary.
It was quite unnerving for Dr. Nobel to read about his own death. The headline of the obituary was particularly disturbing to him: “The Merchant of Death Is Dead”. Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist who invented dynamite and owned numerous armament factories. He had amassed a fortune by selling his products to armies that were preparing for war. The story in the newspaper said, “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”
As you might suspect, the article deeply troubled Nobel. He began to think about how he wanted to be remembered when he actually did die. He certainly didn’t want to be known as “the merchant of death”! He wanted to be remembered for his positive contributions to humankind. So he became very intentional about changing his legacy.
Nobel was quite successful in doing this, as most of us know him as the founder of the Nobel Prize, which is awarded each year to people who have made notable contributions in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. Dr. Alfred Nobel left most of his great fortune to establish the Nobel Prize when he died in 1896. Now, when people think of the name “Nobel”, they have positive thoughts about the man who has rewarded many people who worked hard to make the world a better place in which to live.
What do you want to be remembered for? Many of us have a season in our past which we are not proud of. Is that how you want people to remember you? Of course not! We don’t want to be remembered for our worst mistakes. We want to be known for our best accomplishments.
Each one of us will leave a legacy when we die. We may not be remembered by many. We may not be remembered for long. But we will be remembered. What do you want to be remembered for? It’s not too late to change your story. Let’s all strive to leave a legacy that would honor the Lord!
“Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.”—Psalm 51:14.