August 13, 2014 Leave a comment
On a recent trip to Boston, MA my family visited the graveyard in Salem, MA. The big draw of this graveyard is the memorial to the twenty people who were executed in connection with the famous witch trials in Salem. As we walked between the rows of gravestones, the grave of Alice Orne caught my attention. She died in 1776 at the age of 30. The distinguishing feature of her gravestone was this rhyme:
This stone has something great to teach, and what you need to learn
for graves my friends most loudly preach man’s infinite concern.
How does a gravestone teach “man’s infinite concern?” Few things will give you a sobering sense of your own mortality like a slow stroll through a graveyard. The gravestones tell the story of all kinds of people. Husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are there. Soldiers, doctors, lawyers, sailors, clergymen, merchants, and housewives are all there. The rich and the poor are there. The young and the old are there. But all have one thing in common – they are dead.
Man’s infinite concern is to prepare for the great equalizing experience of death. It is an infinite concern because the soul lives forever in eternal joy or eternal sorrow. The infinity of God will be experienced by all who die. Those who die in Christ will experience the infinite love of a Redeemer. Those who die without Christ will experience the infinite wrath of a Judge.
The gravestone reminds us that our opportunity to prepare for death is limited to the days of our life. As the writer of Hebrews says, “It is appointed to man once to die and then the judgment (Heb. 9:27).” As I walked through that graveyard, the graves did indeed “preach” to me the importance of trusting in the One who is himself the resurrection and the life. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live (John 11:25).”