Sunday, January 04, 2009

Graves

Perhaps the most somber place which we visited was the cemetery. It is a lovely place. I remember the day we stood on top of the hill where both my parents' bodies now lie. Few graves were there. Today their graves are completely surrounded. I remembered what I thought at 14 years old when we were about to bury my Father’s body – is the gospel really true? Can resurrection truly be possible?


Later when my Mother died, I remember standing over their graves again thinking that the Christian gospel was so absurd. When everything around me shouted that the end was here, I wondered why I still had hope. Emotional shock? Psychological denial? Some psychiatric neurosis? I kept hearing the Bible in my head, and still to this day I believe a future resurrection is coming. For those who have placed their hope in Christ, it will be a glorious day.


Just before Mother’s death, I received a phone call from a friend in Monroe, LA with some devastating news. Jeffrey was dead. He was killed in an automobile accident. I was absolutely stunned. Jeffrey was a young man with whom I had attended high school. He was one of my favorite people in the world. We played tennis after school; went out to eat together; drove to band competitions together; and I remember the day he became a Christian.


Every Sunday morning, I would pick him up for Sunday School and church (he didn’t have a car at the time). He was intelligent and actually enjoyed the sermons. We shared a weekly Bible study at school, and I was elated when he expressed a desire to be baptized as he confessed Christ.


When he died, I was amazed at the way his father desired that I serve as a pallbearer and also speak to some members of his family. I remember his funeral to this day and still remember him as he died on my Father’s birthday.


The cemetery where my parents, my brother, and Jeffrey are buried is also filled with many other friends. Scott B. committed suicide as did Jeremy R. and Tony D. (all childhood friends). They are buried there. Joel (our veterinarian’s son) also committed suicide. Terry Cannon, a childhood friend who was a member of our church, was killed in an automobile accident. Johnette, my friend from high school, was murdered by her boyfriend. Jamie (a friend from high school who was on our football team) was killed in an automobile accident. Steve and Shalane were killed as well in automobile accidents. Mrs. Rainwater and Mrs. Dean are buried there. Pastor Ogg and his wife are buried there. It is a place which teaches me hard lessons--ones that I had best heed. We sang the hymn O God Our Help in Ages Past at church this morning. This stanza struck me again with its brutal clarity: Time like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away; They fly forgotten as a dream dies at the opening day. Indeed – they do – they have. I will – sooner than I think. Only the mercy of God in the blood of Christ will allow me to safely pass through God's strict judgment.


While I live, I want to live, in the words of Jonathan Edwards, “with all my might while I do live.” While this trip home was one which caused me much inward grief, I do rejoice in the grace of God. The Lord has given me Nicole and my children. He has never left me alone, and I am praying for the return of Jesus Christ to this earth where His kingdom will have no end.


Thanks be to God for His grace in my life.

2 comments:

Joanna J. said...

Thank you for sharing this, Doug. It is truly a sobering reminder that our presence here on Earth is a mere wisp of time. There is no time to tarry when considering the state of our eternal soul. What a comfort it is to know that we have a heavenly home.

Anonymous said...

Doug,
Thanks for sharing your story. I am reminded of the statement, "God's grace is sufficient." I'm thankful that God has directed your life, even through much grief, to find joy in living for Him and for giving you such a precious family that loves and adores you.
Kay