A skull on the dresser

What do you have sitting on top of your dresser? A picture frame or a lamp?

Margaret Baxter was a woman of deep faith from the 17th century. Do you want to know what she had on top of her dresser beside her bed?

A skull.

Yup, that’s right. A skull! As morbid as that sounds, she put it there to remind her of her own mortality. Any day could be her last, so she wanted a constant reminder to live each day for the glory of God.

In those days, death was a constant, near and real threat. The average life expectancy in England was 31. Most families with children saw the majority of their children die before they turned 5. Let that sink in for a moment. It’s no wonder that people were constantly preparing to meet their Maker.*

Today, with modern medicine, pain killers, vaccines, and general fear of death-talk, it’s possible to stroll through life without thinking about Judgment Day. Not so in previous eras. But that doesn’t mean death is any less real for us today.

The inspiration for this devotional is Margaret Baxter. It’s a serious reminder to not waste life, but to live it purposefully for God.

I realize that not all days are good days. But as you look at your schedule, are you purposefully organizing your life to love God and others? There is literally no better use of time.

One day the final buzzer will sound. On that day, may our words be one with Paul’s: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

You don’t need a skull on your dresser. But you do need the Lord in your heart.


–The Up Devotional is published 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) and returns on June 21, 2021.

–*As told by J.I. Packer in a lecture called “The Good Fight – 01” for the course “The English Puritans,” given at Reformed Theological Seminary. Accessed through Google Podcasts on June 10, 2021. 

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

You can also listen and subscribe wherever you enjoy podcasts:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s