Not long ago I was walking through a cemetery, just looking down at grave markers. I knew some of the people buried there and maybe had conducted their funeral and graveside services. I saw a grave I had never noticed before. It was a single grave with a man’s name on the marker, and underneath his name was a quotation apparently from him: “I did my best … sometimes.” When I saw that quotation, it stopped me. I was there by myself and I just stared at the quotation. I thought about why he would put that on his grave. I did not know the man. To my knowledge, I had no contact with him or ever had any knowledge of him, but I thought his words could probably be on virtually every grave marker in the cemetery and maybe every other cemetery.
The quotation is true of all of us, especially me. All of us at some time or other probably have done our best, and at other times we haven’t quite given our best. As I stood there I came to grips with the fact that this is may be the most honest guy I had ever come across in a cemetery, a man who would live and die and say, “I did my best … sometimes.” I thought about myself and I thought about so many great servants of God about whom it could be said, “I did my best … sometimes.”
I thought about Samson (Judges 13-16). With great expectations of what he was going to do for the Lord, he really did do his best … sometimes. He stood true to the Lord and took on those who were against the Lord and did battle with a jawbone of a donkey. However, the best way to describe Sampson may be that he just played around with his calling, joking with a woman who wanted to know the secret of his power. He was less than serious and not totally committed to the Lord. His life and ministry began to decline. He ended up blinded and in chains. He wondered if God could use him ever again. It could be said, he did his best … sometimes.
I thought about David (1 Samuel 16 – 1 Kings 2), the great king of Israel who is still lauded for all of his greatness whether in writing songs or going to battle. He well could have said in his last breath, “I did my best … sometimes.” There were those times when he clearly did not do his best. He was at the height of his glory, I suppose, when he volunteered to take on a great giant and later, when he was asked to be king and was anointed — but when his troops were headed out to battle, he stayed home and leered at a woman not his wife that he wanted to have. Maybe the best known moment in his life is when he gave in to his desire and entered an adulterous relationship with the woman. In putting all of his life together, he probably could have written across it, “I did my best … sometimes.”
The great New Testament character of Simon Peter is the most vocal, potentially most outstanding of all of the disciples of Jesus. In truth, he had great moments and he did his best … sometimes. He was the only disciple of which we are aware who ever walked on water because of his trust in Christ (Matthew 14: 22-31). He was the one who spoke out confidently to say to Jesus, “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. (Matthew 26:31-35 KJV).” There were shining moments in his life, but under pressure he denied Jesus with a curse again and again and again (Luke 22:54-62). That was not his finest hour. He would go on to preach at the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47) and thousands would come to commit their lives to Jesus. It could easily be put on his gravestone, “I did my best … sometimes.”
Make your own list. Put anyone you want to on there — Noah, Jeremiah, Solomon, Saul, Paul, me, and maybe yourself. No one ever lived giving their best all the time, every time, in every situation and in every crisis, except one person. He stands alone in all of time and history, for He did do His best … all the time. The sinless Savior, Jesus, who came and loved and gave His life just for you and me, left an empty tomb because He not only did His best, He did His best in being raised from the dead. Neither sin, nor death, nor the grave could hold Him. It can only be said of Him, He did His best. It wasn’t just for Him. He didn’t even have to come and live among us, be treated the way He was, and then die for our sins — but He did, just for you and me. Thanks be to God that in Jesus Christ the living Lord it could be said, “He did His best … all the time.” Thank You, Lord.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.