Have you thought about dying lately? One thing on my mind since turning seventy is facing the fact that I’m going to die one of these years, so it’s probably time to start preparing— not only spiritually, but physically.
Physical death is a one-way, dead-end highway with no optional “OFF” ramp. Whether or not we approve, death is the natural end of life on this earth. We can prolong our lives by living wisely, but sooner or later we will enter the one-way vortex from which no body escapes.
I agree with the top half of this tombstone: There is no escape from death. However, we don’t have to feel trapped by this fact, because we can be born again into the family and kingdom of God. Spiritual rebirth endows us with eternal life through Jesus Christ, so that even though our physical body will die, or spirit will never die (John 11:25).
Do you believe this? “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). We don’t have to wait until we die to know what’s coming next!
If we never rise again, it will be because we made a conscious choice to reject the good news that Jesus died for our sins and will save us if we cry out to him in repentance and faith.
Nevertheless, on this earth, we need to figure out what to do with our bodies after we die. My parents were cremated and asked that their ashes be mingled and scattered in the Rocky Mountains where they were married 80 years ago. That seemed totally appropriate and romantic, so I thought it would be great for Alan and me to request something similar, only maybe have our ashes scattered over one of the great lakes. I also told him that if I die first, I would happily be cremated and buried in an urn under his arm in his casket wherever he decides to be buried.
Alan isn’t dead sure what he wants yet, though, so we’re still considering.
Do you ever read tombstones? Most of them are sweet, simple, and straightforward, but some epitaphs are pretty outrageous, whether they’re intended to be humorous or intentionally slanderous. Here are a few that made me laugh, although I would never want them for my head stone!
They say you can’t take it with you, but I guess you can at least keep any of your loved ones from having it. 😦
Some are cleverly esoteric but also bizarre.
Is this man rising from the grave to offer his beloved a rose?
This is one of the saddest (to me): A monument to deadness? Was their last name “DEAD,” or are they expressing their theological assumption that there is no life after death . . . or something else?
This one strikes me as funny but sweet. When we moved to Grand Rapids, I fell in love with an old farmhouse that only had one bathroom. Alan vetoed it given we were a family of nine. Five females sharing one bathroom would definitely test family synergy!
This couple must have had a good sense of humor!
Did these two commit suicide? Die doing something very foolish? I’m guessing whoever oversaw the design of this gravestone was feeling more than a little angry.
How about this one? What?!?
Aren’t epitaphs supposed to epitomize the person?
This one is getting a little closer to something I’d like. It made me stop and think: What would I like on my tombstone? What message would I like to give any person who stops by my grave? How about you? What would you like for an epitaph when you die?
I believe that when I die my spirit will arise and go straight up to be with Jesus and my heavenly Father, and I don’t care what happens to my physical body, although I do want to be considerate of the feelings of those I’ll leave behind. What caused Alan and me to reconsider our stance on cremation was one daughter-in-law who felt strongly that she wanted us to have a grave site.
Whatever happens in my future, I now know the message I would like to leave: “Jesus Saves!” I also know from the depths of my being that even though my physical body will die and decay—ashes to ashes and dust to dust (Genesis 18:27), nothing will hold back my spirit from rising up to be with Jesus forever. I pray that you won’t let anything hold you back either!
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
(Acts 16:31, ESV)
(P.S.—I cannot take credit for any of these great photos. The text is [obviously] mine; but the photos were passed on to me as an email forward from a friend who has no clue who originally found them or sent them around. If you are the photographer, please let me know so I can credit you! Thanks!)