While my husband and I were in Perth, AU in December, we went for a short overnight trip to the Pinnacles, which are about a four hour drive north of Perth. On the way, we stopped at a café in the Park, and while Patrick did some work on his computer, I went for a walk. While walking I came across a cemetery. It may seem like a strange hobby, but I love to walk through cemeteries, especially old ones. I find it fascinating walking around and seeing all the dates of when people were born, when they died and what the people they loved wrote about them. This was a cemetery in an Anglican churchyard from around the 1800s. As I walked around and read what the various headstones said, I prayed that I might live my life in such a way that I would touch around me and they would have only good to say about me. As I was reading and praying, I realized that many of the headstones were women– people’s sisters, mothers, daughters and wives. What their families wrote about them interested me:
“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord… that they may rest from their labours and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:13).
“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
And even one that simply said: “One who showed forth Christ in her life.”
I would love any one of these verses to be written about me! I wondered what my husband would have written on my grave when I died, what my children would say, whether the church would have reason to miss me and ultimately what my Heavenly Father would say. Something endeared these people to the living left behind– what impression will I leave behind? I decided to teach my ladies’ class lesson in Perth on this topic.
As I sat amongst the ladies, having prepared myself to talk about the various things I would like the people left behind to say about me and then what I would like my Lord to say and I sat amongst the ladies, one of the ladies announced that a very close friend of hers– a boy who had grown up with her children in South Africa– had passed away as a result of a tragic accident. He was only 22 years old and had fallen asleep at the wheel. As I listened to this lady express her sadness at his passing, I was touched by the things that were said about him. “He was a good Christian.” “He served the church.” “He worked with the youth in the church.” She even talked about how when someone was sick in the hospital, he was so good as to visit them and comfort them. By the end, I don’t believe one tear was dry in the room, but I have reason to believe that he is now receiving the fruits of his labour. What a beautiful example.
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13).
While we reflect on graveyards and loved ones who have passed, let us remember the frailty and brevity of life. Let us think about what we will leave behind for others to say about us, and what our Lord will think of what we have accomplished. Let’s strive to have the Lord say of us in that great day:
“Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:23).
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. …Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:34-40).
Live life now so you will have nothing to regret later. May God bless you as you strive to put Him first in your life!
By Chantelle Swayne
Chantelle and her husband of two years, Patrick, work with a congregation in Melbourne, AU. In August they plan to begin work at the Four Seas Bible College in Singapore, where Patrick will become a full-time teacher and Dean of Academics. There he will teach about 24 students (as well as Chantelle, who will start studying there) from approximately seven different countries.