I went wandering around a cemetery on my lunch hour the other day.
The beautiful university campus where I work has a funeral home right in the middle of it, and a cemetery across the street. Strange as it seems, cemeteries are quite peaceful places to find a respite in the middle of a busy day.
This is the same cemetery where I found a headstone that says, “So now you come to visit me!”. I’m not kidding. I’ve always wondered what this man’s story was.
Aside from that one and a few others, the majority of the headstones are simply names and dates. And that’s when you realize that life is remarkably short. There is a section of the cemetery for children, and the little lambs and baby angels on the top of the stones make me sad, even though some of them have been there for almost a century. And then there are markers for people who lived much longer than that and died after a full life.
Life is still short, no matter how long you’re here. The world has been around for thousands of years, and our lives are quite momentary in comparison. Watching the news this week and seeing lives shattered by a raging tornado in Oklahoma brings the brevity of life to the forefront.
They didn’t know they’d be ushered into eternity that day. And I bet most of the people represented by the headstones in the cemetery didn’t know the date that would end up on their marker, either. I have brief “I wonder….” moments when I get on an airplane sometimes, but other than that, I don’t think about it much.
But maybe I should.
If I thought about how short life is more often, would it change how I lived it? Would I conquer more fears, share Christ more readily, say the things I need to say to people? It’s not being morose. It’s being realistic. We’re put here by God for a defined period of time known only to Him. And I believe He puts us all here for a specific, defined purpose. A life mission.
Maybe I need to wander around cemeteries more often. Because there’s nothing like a cemetery to make you think about life.
LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Psalm 39:4
So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. John 9:4
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. Ecclesiastes 9:10
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10