The other day I was reading my devotional, Grace for the Moment by Max Lucado before going to work. Under a list of bullet points I was surprised to read “Make major decisions in a cemetery.”
I had to reread that line a couple times. It seemed so random and not flowing with the other ideas, but I pondered it nonetheless. I decided that my next morning walk would be at a cemetery not far from my house.
The morning was slightly cooler than it’s been the past blazing week. I pulled into the cemetery and instead of being surrounded by headstones, I was surrounded by bouquets of flowers. Most of the grave markers are set flush to the ground so you have to practically be standing over top them to read them.
If you ever need a reality check, the cemetery is a good place to go. Especially when you see the markers of children who didn’t even make it to 5 or 10 years old.
My Uncle “Skipper” died of leukemia when he was 9 years old. He was my first real understanding of death, which is odd because I never met him. Even now I feel a strange connection with him and the knowledge of his brief but precious life.
In a cemetery you are very aware of lives that have come to an end and no matter what age, they’re always gone too soon. So, here are some thoughts I had while sitting on a cold stone bench overlooking the resting memorials.
If we could check off everything on our bucket list, would we feel like it was a life well spent? If we landed that dream job, married the love of our life, had the perfect number of children, and could afford a lake house for retirement, is that a successful life?
I gotta be honest, sometimes I feel like if I don’t achieve any of those things, I’ll have wasted my life. But a passage keeps coming to my mind.
“34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” ∼Mark 8:34-36 (ESV)
In life, we are constantly bombarded with planning our future and making goals for everything we want to do while we’re still on this earth. Whenever someone close to us passes away, we are reminded that life is short and we should always live as if it’s our last day. While all of that is true and blanketed with good intentions, it’s easy to fall into making each day about us.
As Christians, the fact of the matter is time is short.
Time is short to represent Jesus.
Time is short to do His will.
Time is short to celebrate His name in thankfulness.
I was listening to an online sermon by Todd White (worth looking up here) and he made it abundantly clear that we might be the only Jesus people see. We might be the only Bible people read. What are we doing about it? Are we really making good use of our time as servants of Christ? That’s what it means to be a Christian, isn’t it?
The Bible consistently reminds us of our selfish nature, but thankfully, it also gives us a better alternative to living. If we could just peel our selfishness away and focus on living for God and for others (Lk 10:27), there will be no greater achievement on earth as it is in heaven.
This epitaph inspired me because I realized I would rather be remembered by walking out the fruits of the Spirit than how many books I publish or performances I give. The fruits of the Spirit are evidence of God in our life so you better believe I want people to see them. They’re found here in Galatians 5 if you want to know what they are.
Let me leave you with a few ideas on how you can reveal the love of Jesus in your daily life:
Generously tip all of your servers (not just the deserving ones)
Leave notes of encouragement
Don’t complain about work
Learn peoples’ names (everyone likes to hear their name)
If you have any other ideas on how you like to represent Jesus, leave a comment so we all can learn from each other!
The next time you find yourself in the cemetery, remember the advice from my devotional: “make a major decision” to walk in the light of Jesus, bearing His fruit so the world can pick it from your branches.
P.S. Daytime walks in the cemetery are far less scary than nighttime walks.