Cemeteries are interesting places to visit. The headstones often give insight into the personality and character of the deceased. Some of them are humorous. For instance, the headstone on Margaret Daniel’s grave at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia has the following inscription: “She always said her feet were killing her but nobody believed her.”
Other grave markers have religious implications. One common inscription for a Christian is “Absent from the body but present with the Lord.” Some of them express this same sentiment more creatively. For example, on a grave from the 1880’s in Nantucket, Massachusetts: “Under the sod and under the trees lies the body of Jonathan Pease. He is not here, there’s only the pod. Pease shelled out and went to God.”
The purpose of the grave headstone is often to praise the humble virtues of the person who has died or to remind us of the bond between the living and the dead. Many graves have markers that simply list the name of the deceased with the dates of their birth and death. The two dates are separated by a dash (-).
Some say life is from B to D. From birth to death. But what is between B and D? It is a C. But what is a C? It is Choice. Our life is a matter of choices. While the two dates are significant, the in-between time is extremely important. What happens between the beginning and end of earthly life. Our choices make a difference- sometimes momentarily, sometimes eternally.
Understanding the purpose of our life is essential for a meaningful existence. Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life is the day you were born and the day you find out why.” I believe that every person is made by God and for God and until they understand that, life will never make sense.
Centuries ago the leader of the Israelites counseled the people to hold God in the highest regard and serve God honestly and faithfully (Joshua 24:14). American author Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. suggested that the purpose of life is “to be the eyes and ears and conscience of the Creator of the Universe”
Although ancient Joshua and the more contemporary Vonnegut lived centuries apart and their lives were very different from each other, both provide us with sound advice. I think they both would agree with the psalmist that human beings are the crown of God’s Creation with wonderful abilities and tremendous responsibilities (Psalm 8). Og Mandino put it this way: “You are not the momentary whim of a careless creator experimenting in the laboratory of life… You were made with a purpose.”
According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the ultimate goal and purpose of humankind is to glorify God and to enjoy God forever. So what happens in this life- between birth and death- is extremely important. The choices we make determine our future both now and forever.
Lord, help us today to choose wisely and live faithfully as children of God.