Getting perspective from a graveyard?

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From the Desk of…

by Ron Strickland, Major –

I suspect that the initial thoughts of most people seeing this title—“Gaining perspective from a graveyard?”—would be, “No way,” or “How can that be?” In fact, I believe many would say that the last place to gain perspective would be in a graveyard! However, please stay with me for a moment as I share what perspectives I recently gained.

During a vacation visit to my hometown of New Bern, N.C., I visited the local cemetery. New Bern is the second oldest town in North Carolina. A Swiss entrepreneur, Baron Christopher de Graffenreid, founded it in 1710 and named it after Bern, Switzerland.

While I was driving around my hometown, I visited the Cedar Grove cemetery to look at the gravesites of my paternal grandfather and grandmother and my sister who died when she was 13 years old. I always like to ensure that these sites are being properly maintained. It was while my older brother and I performed some needed care on these sites that I began to think about three perspectives of a graveyard. They are as follows:

1. Graveyards are places that people fear.
2. Graveyards are quiet places.
3. Graveyards denote finality.

Yes, graveyards are places that most people fear. Thoughts of the dead residing there bring feelings of fear and apprehension. People conjure up how the dead will harm them. However, if we really think about it, it is not the dead we need fear, but rather the living. We need not fear the dead or death, because we have the assurance that Jesus Christ conquered death. And as a result of Christ’s victory over death, we have freedom from fear. The sting of death has been removed by Christ’s victory.

Second, graveyards are quiet places. Although the dead do not speak to us when we visit graveyards, at times we talk to and/or think about those who have gone on before. The graveyard is a quiet place that allows us to reminisce about our loved ones of years gone by. This was true for me as I stood at my sister Judy’s grave. She died on November 1, 1953, when I was eight years old. While it has been over 54 years, I can still remember the day and time when she passed from this life into eternity. It was in this quiet solitude that I thanked God for her even though we had her only for a short time. It was in this quiet place that I also gave thanks to God for the fact that I would see her again in heaven. Now that is what I call real perspective.

And finally, graveyards denote finality. There is a sense of closure to life here on earth in a graveyard. Nonetheless, if this were all that death offers, life would not really be worth living. If our lives were nothing but the dash mark between birth and death, God has played an awful joke on humanity. But, praise God that life is much more than a mere 50-100 years lived here on terra firma. A life lived for God that will bring honor and praise to him is a life lived for the greatest reward we could ever hope for—a life of eternity with him in heaven. Again, that is what I call getting perspective in a graveyard.

Consider what songwriter Bill Gaither penned that gives real perspective to our lives as we journey toward eternity via the graveyard:

Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because he lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living,
Just because he lives!

So the next time you visit and/or pass by a graveyard, thank God for eternal perspective.

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