The gate creaks open, and I step into a place that holds the dead.
I walk along rows of stones, past a fresh hump of dirt and fading flowers in a tipped-over vase. I see names I recognize, but most are strangers. The first ones were buried here in 1870.
I try to remember her soprano voice, his belly-laughter and their church-potluck specialties. Their faces have dimmed with the ages.
And then I consider this life inside this body– this life that began on February 2, 1972.
When faced on all sides by mortality, aren’t we prone to then consider our own? Here, among the graves, I wonder: Where might they bury me? Maybe over there in the corner? I’d have a “view” of the acres he farmed all those years and the house we built and the flowers I grew and the trees we planted.
It’s just a short walk, really, from here to there — from this place where the bodies go, to my life-pulsing home, which I see just over the curve of the Earth. Just a short walk.
And isn’t that life, too? Just a short walk, really. We are mists that appear for a little while, then vanish.
I know it sounds morbid, but as I write this, I consider that I might die tomorrow. I might die before I hit Publish Post on this blog entry.
That’s a staggering thought, but it’s reality. A friend of a friend — a 51-year-old mother — died two nights ago in a car accident on Highway 75 in northwest Iowa. Someone else crossed the center line. A little over a year ago, I collided head-on with a car that crossed the center line on that same road.
My earthly life was spared. Hers wasn’t.
There are no guarantees. I might die today.
But do we live our lives really believing it?
I used to live life afraid of dying. I was scared to death of dying. Now, if I’m scared of anything, it’s that I will not do the things He set out for me to do. Not that my salvation depends on my good works, but I don’t want to waste this life I’ve been given chasing shadows.
In 100 years — likely fewer — no one left on this planet will remember me. Should they walk through this old cemetery, I’ll be little more than a name to anyone. In fact, this old cemetery may well be covered in weeds and decay. My stone may be toppled over — like the one I set back in its place as I walked the rows.
No one will know what clothes I wore, what newspapers I worked for, what awards I hung on my wall. No one on Earth will know me at all. But the One who made me will know me. Yes, He will.
For I am living unapologetically for Christ.
I once had a friend who questioned why I would give my life to Jesus. She left this question in the comment box: “What was so bad about life as-is that you needed to give it all away?”
And I answered her question this way:
“Some people arrive at Faith in Jesus after hitting rock-bottom. …
Others come to faith because they’ve been hurt so badly, and they go searching for some meaning in the middle of the chaos.
For me, faith came more quietly. As an adult, I had to decide: What am I going to do with the Jesus I grew up with? What did I really believe? Jesus is either the Son or God or he isn’t. He either died on the cross, or he didn’t. He either rose on the third day, or he didn’t. How was I going to respond?
I began to ponder the big questions in life: Is there really a God? What happens when I die? Is there a purpose for my life? Do I matter? What on Earth am I here for?”
The simple fact is this: In 100 years, nothing will matter more than the fact that I knew God and wanted to be a world-changer for Him. Nothing will matter more than the fact that I planted these seeds in my children, who will — by the grace of God — plant them in their children, who will plant them in their children.
Nothing will matter more than the fact that when my body lay cold and still, I lived life in the reality of who I was before God.
I could die any day. I believe it enough that it is changing how I live every day.
Photo: Computer-generated tombstone. These days are numbered. I’m living life with that in mind.
Each Wednesday, I join Ann Voskamp as we “Walk With Him.” This week, we consider how we’re Cultivating a Life that God Desires.
“He determined the exact times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” — Acts 17:26