No mail today. People are out boating, picnicking, barbecuing in the back yard and enjoying a day off from work. It is a day set aside for remembrance. This is a good thing for an habitually amnesiac race. Knowing this about His creatures, God instructed His earthly people to set remembrances for significant events. There are things they dare not forget. At the foot of Mt. Sinai, Moses built an altar of stones to commemorate God’s covenant with Israel. God had previously said “…be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Deuteronomy 6:12. Also there were the twelve stones reminding them of their crossing the river Jordan into the land of promise. And in the New Testament we have a community event – the Lord’s supper – to remind us of our redeemer’s loving commitment to us. So Memorial Day has a solid foundation. Nationally it is imperative to remember the cost that others paid for our freedom to guard against recklessness.
My folks used to go and visit the graves of their parents on Memorial Day, but we kids were never coerced to join them. I never developed a sentimental attachment to that practice, and in fact, have only seen my parents’ graves once. I felt more inclined to remember them in life rather than look at the cold ground and be painfully reminded that they are gone. Perhaps I am shallow. But now there is a cemetery marker in the ground that shares my name with my husband’s. His is fully inscribed but my side has a beginning date and a dash. The other side of the dash will be filled out at a later time. I am wrestling with the idea of making a trip there today – to see how the newly installed marker looks and to “pay my respects”. However, part of me thinks that I pay my respects with every anguished cry of pain as I move through life without him. Every room of the house, every activity of life is now a reminder that I am without my friend and companion. Father’s Day is looming large on the horizon and I pray for my children, knowing how such a holiday will press on their hearts with vice grip force. So do I need to go to a graveyard to remember?
My strategy has been to surround myself with pictures and reminders of all the happy times – which were bountiful. Mingled with the tears are the smiles of memories that are imbedded deeply in my heart.The house is full of the loving touches that he made to beautify it and improve its efficiency for my benefit. It shouts love more than loss. In every room I can see photos of us together, usually with his arm around me, both of us smiling. Great reminders! Memorial Day is a good thing, given our tendency to forgetfulness. I think today I am going to celebrate his memory by living in the “dash” on my side of the marker with thoughts about where he is now. Never before has the hope of resurrection been more personalized and emphasized in my heart. Death is not the end, it is the beginning. I grieve my loss, but know in the whole scheme of things it will be the blink of an eye before we are reunited. I remember what Jesus said – “I go to prepare a place for you.” The cemetery where we laid Mike’s earthly shell is just a reminder that he is not there, but he is enjoying an existence personalized by Jesus Himself, who he so faithfully served in his days on earth.
1 Corinthians 15:50-57 Message Bible
I need to emphasize, friends, that our natural, earthy lives don’t in themselves lead us by their very nature into the kingdom of God. Their very “nature” is to die, so how could they “naturally” end up in the Life kingdom?
But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!