Since last week I have watched car after car, husbands, wives, uncles, aunts, friends and children come and go from the site they laid to rest their loved one. Over the course of five days the once bare grounds are covered with flowers, all ranging in extravagance.
Last Wednesday while taking an afternoon walk I passed a mom with her four children who were sitting on the ground in a circle around a headstone. They were trimming its edge, polishing its surface and placing flower bouquets on each side; both secured by hangers that had been cut and bent to perfectly match the height from ground to flower-pot-top. As I passed, the long ago memories of me and my grandma doing the same filled my mind. And yet, as the memories brought a smile and tear, there was something new in my mind; a knowing that I would never do the same.
The Cost of Following Jesus18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Throughout my transition from religion to relationship, my understanding of what Jesus calls us to do has been made clear, in context, as He truly spoke it. And as I have watched the people come and go from the cemetery this week my thoughts continue to go back to His word and what Jesus said about the dead.
Here we have a disciple who says he will follow Jesus, BUT, first he says he must go and bury his father.
If Jesus was standing before you and you had the opportunity to follow Him, would you not leave all you had and follow? Is your father more important than God? Are your earthly ways more desirable than the teachings of Jesus?
Jesus asks us to love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. Meaning, that every moment of everyday should be lived for Him. Going to a cemetery to put flowers on a dead persons grave is putting time, thought and heart into the dead, not Him. Let the dead bury their own dead, He says. The dead are dead. Some lost to tragedy, others from old age; all the same, dead.
For many, the BUT would now come into play.
I understand that death is not easy. In fact, I know it to be life shattering for some. The thought of losing those we love is unimaginable and a topic that is avoided at all costs. At times, regardless of what I now know about death, the thought of losing my husband or family brings sadness and fear. Yet what is greater? Life or Death? Do we not gain everlasting Life from God? Is God not greater than death?
And because of this no BUT is needed. There is no need to dwell in the past, or worry about the future because He is all reigning, and through Him our needs are met, our cups runneth over, and we may have everlasting life. Follow Him, do not turn back for the dead; they will take care of themselves.
With all of this said, I am not saying to not stop and give a moment of reflection or thanks to those that have past. Commemorating those who have come into our lives is natural and at times needed for healing. However, let us do it with God as the leader; in His name, for His glory.
What if, rather than buy 20, 50 or 100 dollars worth of flowers for graves, we all gave that money to a foundation that fed the hungry? All of which could be done in honor of those past. Yet, all to better His kingdom here on earth. For all the life that has been lost, thousands more could be sustained.
You are all we need. Those we have lost are gone, but You remain constant. May You continue to guide us and keep fresh Your word. Thank you for all opportunities given to serve You fully while here on earth.
In Your Holy name,