My children never knew my maternal grandparents whom I had been very close to growing up. Chase was about five, Jordyn was four and Jenna was two when my mom and I along with my Aunt Gerry took my kids to the cemetery where my grandparents were buried beneath the same headstone. It was a beautiful fall day. The leaves were just beginning to drop and the air had a nip of coolness in it as it brushed our cheeks. Soon after we arrived, I saw my son picking up leaves and putting them around the ledge of the headstone. Not understanding what he was doing and wanting to teach him to be respectful of the gravesite, I chided him a little. He looked up at me in childish innocence and said, "Mommy, I was making a blanket for them. It's a little cold today."
What Chase failed to understand was that my grandparents were not there anymore. Only their shells were buried in the ground, both of which were sick and old and feeble at the time that they left us for heaven. Their bodies had become more like prisons to them toward the end of their lives. Heaven was now their home where sickness does not exist or pain or anything that is not perfect. But Chase, like me, could not fully grasp the miracle of hope where death here on earth means life in the presence of the Lord.
I remember looking at the dates of their births and deaths with the dash in between the numbers. That span represented eight-six years for my grandmother and almost eighty-nine for my grandfather. Those who would come to the cemetery and pass by the headstone would not know what had taken place in those decades of time. They wouldn't know how dear and wonderful those two people had been to their children and grandchildren.
None of us knows how many years the dash will represent for our lives. All of us have a terminal case of mortality. The day we were born began the countdown. But I know that until we have Someone worth dying for, we will never truly start to live. We have one go around here on planet earth. Are we experiencing what Jesus promised to us in John 10:10 or are we merely existing?
"...I have come that they might have life and may have it more abundantly."
If we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, this life will be difficult. Jesus never promised us that it wouldn't be. But we can experience joy that defies our pain, grace instead of bitterness, forgiveness instead of hatred, love instead of indifference. All of us who have accepted Christ's gift of salvation can live a life that only God Himself could have written for us. Or we can choose not to and live miserably until the day we die.
One day, someone might wonder about you and me:
What happened in the dash?