For those in my generation, you probably remember the cheesy Tombstone pizza commercials…no pun intended!
What do you want on your tombstone?
Every Easter weekend I have a chance to look at many tombstones from my ancestors and even complete strangers that happen to be buried near them.
I used to accompany my grandparents to Old Salem’s graveyard, known as God’s Acre. We would clean the flat, white stones with Comet cleaner and place flowers on the graves of my great-grandparents.
We would also put flowers on the grave of my grandmother’s uncle whom she never met. He died in a car accident in his early twenties not far from my home - 1913, I believe. Cars had barely been invented at the time!
Hard to believe he has been gone from this earth for almost 100 years and he still has descendants that think of him each Easter. He was the very dear brother of my great-grandmother, so the family has continued to honor his memory because of her love for him.
Now my dad and I take care of the graves of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and even my great-great-grandparents, as well as “Tob,” (short for Thomas) the beloved brother.
I must admit, I went a little picture crazy at the cemeteries on Saturday. God’s Acre in the Moravian graveyard is always the most special place because of my Moravian heritage and that now my grandparents are both buried there. It is breathtakingly beautiful and so tranquil. And there is so much history there!
When I think of the Rapture of the Church, I imagine it happening at God’s Acre…
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
How comforting is that?
Isn’t that really what Easter is all about? Worshiping a Savior who conquered death and knowing that we can also if we know Him personally and have accepted His gift of salvation.
Reading the stones is comforting for me also. Because it usually speaks to the faith of the one who is buried there, asleep in Jesus.
For instance, the stones for both of my grandparents read, “God is my Refuge and Strength.” - A plaque that decorated their living area for as long as I knew them. Incidentally, it now graces my living room wall.
But my most favorite stone that I’ve ever seen in any cemetery belongs to my own great-great-grandmother. “I am in my Savior’s hands. I am His and it’s alright.”
What peace and comfort that must have brought to her immediate family after her passing! What great joy to know here and now, that I will most likely meet her one day!
She certainly sounds like a woman of faith and a woman who loved the Lord! I would love to hear this amazing testimony of a mother who lived during the Civil War. I can’t help but wonder how God must have proved Himself faithful to her in those dark days… In fact, family history indicates that her mother died when she was only 3 days old and she was raised by her 14 year old sister. Tough times, indeed. Yet she appears to have endured and grown up to be a strong Christian woman.
What about you? What would you like on your tombstone?
Is there a special verse that illustrates your life? I would love to read your comments!
For me, there are several verses that I hold very dear. But my favorite has got to be Romans 8:28, “For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
What message would you like to speak to the generations to come, if the Lord should tarry? Perhaps one day it would be a silent witness to a great-great-grandchild that this life is not all there is.
It may seem morbid to some that we visit graveyards at Easter. But that’s not what it’s about. It’s about new life, the anticipation of meeting Jesus in the clouds, and long awaited family reunions!
I hope that you all had a blessed Easter weekend! Still reflecting on the cross and what it all means to have a Savior who conquered the grave...
© Christy Long 2011. All Rights Reserved.
“…How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.” ~ Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)
As I opened my 4-year-old preschooler’s red folder that had been hiding in his camouflage back pack all weekend, I discovered a cut out crown with glued-on jewels in various feminine colors. The thick paper crown was white and written on it in purple letters (in the teacher’s neatly, printed handwriting) were the words, “My Mom is Queen of the House.”
“Wow!” I said to Bryson, “How sweet!”
As I proudly grabbed a couple of magnets off the refrigerator and found a conspicuous place to display this wonderful recognition of my reigning title, he then said something that totally burst my bubble.
“But you know, Mama, you have to share your crown with Spooky, because she is Queen of the House too!”
“What?” I asked in disbelief. “You mean to tell me that I have to share my crown with a cat???”
Of course, I had to laugh; although, my sweet 4-year-old was completely serious. He had heard me say numerous times that Spooky is Queen of the House, or so she thinks!
How could I be angry? His statement was simply precious.
But it did trigger some thought provoking questions on my part though.
I began to think about how silly it seemed for me to have to share my crown and my title as Queen of the House with our pet.
After all, I am the one who saved her. She came to us as a stray, starving for food and for love. We adopted her, provided her shelter (a rather nice castle for her highness), and have loved her like our own pedigree dog that we purchased as the family Christmas present several years ago.
It would seem absurd that I would have to share my crown with her.
How much more then does God feel disrespected by His child when I expect Him to share His crown with something or someone else?
Whether I'm situating myself on the throne by making life all about me, or if I'm placing something else in His reserved spot – looking for affirmation from other people...leaving the TV on to drown out the quiet when I should embrace that time to be still and hear from Him...Maybe it’s searching the pantry to satisfy my inner void with something crunchy…
Whatever it is, I fear that I do not give Him total reign over my life all the time. I fear that I do not solely let Him wear the crown.
I'm afraid that sometimes I try to share it.
The God of the Universe loved me enough to save me and to adopt me as His own. Everything I am and everything I have is because of Him.
May God be glorified in all that I do! For He alone is worthy to wear the crown! And He will not share!
Lord, Your Word is clear. You will not let Yourself be defamed and You will not yield Your glory to another. You are unwilling to share the crown. Forgive me when I have put other things in Your place – even when I have unknowingly sought to bring glory to myself and have worshiped the idols of our culture. For You, Lord, are King of my House and Lord of my Life.
“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV)
“Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:8 (NIV)
“Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty- he is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:10 (NIV)
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105 (NIV)
Severe thunderstorms rolled through our area of North Carolina on Monday night and early Tuesday morning. At times the lightning was so intense it almost looked like daylight was breaking ahead of schedule. Booms of thunder…wailing wind gusts…shutters flapping against the house…wind chimes that were rockin’ and rollin’…
A night with much interrupted sleep. Thankfully, I had already given my dog his Xanax, so he wasn’t too upset. But I kind of wish somebody had given me something!
Since my husband was out of town on business, both boys and the dog were sleeping with me in our king size bed. My daughter was in her upstairs room, directly above us. As the weather radio went off multiple times in the wee hours, blaring out warnings of severe thunderstorms with instructions not to go near windows because of flying debris, it occurred to me that maybe we should move into the living room.
I corralled everyone in the central location just in case we needed to make a dash down the basement stairs. News that a tornado had been spotted a few miles over in the next town was confirmation that I had made the right decision, though I hated to wake my sleeping children.
Then, click! The power went out. And except for the flashes of lightning, it was pitch dark!
Bumping into things, I made my way to the nightstand beside my bed and opened the drawer. I felt around inside, searching for a flashlight…there it was! Though the battery seemed a little low, as the light was a bit dim, it did the trick.
I could now find my way in the dark. The kids and I sat in the living room for maybe half an hour until the worst of the storm seemed to pass. Then, Madison asked me to walk her back upstairs and down the hallway to her room. It was really dark and we needed the flashlight to light our way.
The verse from Psalm 119 popped into my head. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. It had real meaning for me on this night!
We are so used to simply turning on the light switch and having instant, total brightness in our homes today. In fact, our power was out for around 15 hours or so and the entire time it was out the kids and I habitually continued to flip on the light switches throughout our house.
Of course we know nothing about living in a time period in which people actually had to read by candlelight, or find their way from one room to the next with a small lamp. How it put things in perspective!
God’s word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path.
Just enough light to find our way in a given situation…we don’t necessarily need to see the whole room lit up in its entirety, just take our life journey one step at a time, totally dependent on the flashlight so as not to stumble in the darkness.
Lord, I know my habit is to turn on the light switch myself. I confess that I do not always use Your Word as my flashlight. In my impatience and impulsiveness, I want to see the big picture as I head down the long hallway. Help me to walk in Your Light, taking things at Your pace, in Your direction. I pray that you keep me from tripping over my own self-directed, false light. May I learn to apply Your Word in my everyday life…in every situation, so that I may stay on the path that You have prepared for me.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 (NIV)
Not everybody’s favorite, but my Grandma Dot and I shared a love for them. With a strong, licorice-like taste, much different from the sweet, fruity flavors, the black jelly beans are often the ones left untouched. But for me, it was just the opposite.
As a child, during the Easter season, I remember eating black jelly beans with my grandmother at her house while we watched TV together. (Yes, they make bags with only the black jelly beans, so believe it or not, it must be the flavor of choice for at least some of the population!)
Receiving my bag of black jelly beans from my Grandma Dot became somewhat of an Easter tradition. It was my special little treat from her every year – even well into my adulthood.
Sadly, my grandmother died unexpectedly on the Monday morning of April 26th, 2004, not too many weeks after Easter. Sometime after she had passed, I found in a drawer a bag of black jelly beans that she had given me. I almost couldn’t bear to look at them or eat them for a while because I missed my grandmother so much.
This year my family has been working on a huge jar of Jelly Bellies from Costco, though in my opinion there are not enough black ones in the extensive assortment. As I longed to taste some black jelly beans and remembered those special times with my Grandma Dot – I began to crave them!
So I stopped by Rite-Aid and bought 2 bags!
You may have heard what the different colors of jelly beans represent concerning the plan of salvation – the black ones represents sin.
Certainly not a surprise that the color black symbolizes darkness or death – Ephesians 2:1 reminds us that we “were dead in our sins.” Romans 6:23 states, “the wages of sin is death…”
But like the bittersweet taste of the black jelly bean, “…God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Jesus suffered and died for us on the cross because He loved us that much!
If our sins are forgiven, death is not eternal. We will die an earthly death at some point, but if we have chosen to accept God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, we will be victorious over death!
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Yes, I miss eating black jelly beans with my Grandma Dot. Death has separated us temporarily. But because of Jesus, and what He did for us on the cross, those black jelly beans are ever so sweet.
Because of Jesus, I can savor each black jelly bean and look forward to the day I meet Him face to face and thank Him in person for loving me enough to save me from the punishment I deserve! And I can also look forward to a happy reunion with my Grandma Dot where we can celebrate Easter every day with Jesus - together!
What about you? Are your sins forgiven? If you have any doubt whatsoever, why not take care of that today? I pray that everyone can eat their favorite jelly beans this Easter with the assurance of their own salvation.
Dear God, I acknowledge and confess to you that I am a sinner and have missed the mark of the standard You set, Lord. I believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross and I want to turn away from those sins. Today Lord, I accept Your gift of forgiveness. I desire to have a personal relationship with You and I want to follow You all of my life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… Romans 3:23 (NIV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NIV)
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)