Enoch walked with God after the birth of Methuselah three hundred years, and had other sons and daughters.”
I’ll never forget the very first graveside service I led as a pastor. It was in a mausoleum at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California. As I was waiting for the service to start, I studied the walls of the mausoleum, which were covered with epitaphs. Most of them said something like “Beloved Wife and Mother” or “In Loving Memory.” But one caught my eye and sparked my imagination. What did it say? “A Real Character.” Wouldn’t you like to know more about the person with that grave marker?
Have you ever thought about what you’d want on your gravestone? If your identity was to be summarized for posterity in just a few words, what might these words be?
In Genesis 5, I am struck by the “epitaph” for Enoch. As we read through the chapter, we find names of ancient people, along with their close relatives and how long they lived. Then we come upon Enoch. Verse 21 provides the usual data, “When Enoch lived sixty-five years, he became the father of Methuselah.” Nothing surprising here. But verse 22 reads, “Enoch walked with God after the birth of Methuselah three hundred years.” Verse 24 repeats, “Enoch walked with God.” Nobody else in this chapter is described in this way. (Noah is the only other one who merits this description in Gen 6:9).
Enoch “walked with God.” Now that’s a great way to epitomize a great life. The verb “walked” in this sense means more than “Enoch obeyed God’s commands” though it implies righteous living. The stronger sense of “walked” in verse 22 is intimacy with God. You may recall that God walked in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:8. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have been able to share fellowship with God rather than hiding from God in the trees. Enoch, though living in a world broken by sin, nevertheless was able to experience something like God had intended for human beings from the beginning. He “walked with God.”
As I think about what might appear on my gravestone, I’d be happy with “Beloved Husband and Father.” If there is enough room, maybe “Friend and Pastor” too. But, there is part of me that would want to borrow Enoch’s “epitaph” from Genesis 5. Wouldn’t be great if, someday, those who knew me and loved me might think it made sense to summarize my life in three simple words: “Walked with God.”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What might you want your epitaph to be?
Do you walk with God? What helps you to experience God’s presence? When do you experience intimacy with God?
Gracious God, thank you for the example of Enoch. Though we don’t know much about him, we do know that he walked with you. He knew you well. He lived his life in relationship with you. How wonderful!
O Lord, may I walk with you too. May my relationship with you be so central to my life that my whole existence might be aptly summarized by the phrase: “[Insert your name here] walked with God.”
I thank you for your grace that makes this possible. Thank you for wanting to walk with me. Amen.
Photo of the cemetery in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, in the snow thanks to Troy (Flickr: ) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.