The Bible tells of a man "who had his dwelling among the tombs" (Mk. 5:3). In other words, he went to live in the graveyard. The cemetery, of course, is a fine place for those who are already dead, but we would not think of living there under other circumstances. It is pitiful to see, this man who moved to the tombs before he died.

People still do this, and it is still just as sad. You can find those today who have decided to quit living before they are dead. In their spirits they have gone on ahead to the graveyard. Their hopes and higher purposes in life are gone. They are defeated, and now they just wait for it all to be over.

This is always sad, but it is truly deplorable when it is Christians who do it. Yes, sometimes even God's people go and dwell in the tombs. They think, "I have gone as far as I can and done all I can do," and so they sit down in the tombs and wait for the end.

Maybe you are one of those who now dwell in the tombs. Perhaps there was a former time in your life, a time of good works, of zealous devotion and of hope. But since then you have had your troubles. You have been hurt and let down. You have carried some heavy burdens, and now you are broken.

But is this any cause to sit down in the tombs? No! You are not finished living yet! The Lord has something for you to do, and somewhere for you to progress. He still has a place in his vineyard where you can be of use to him. Why else would you still be here? The Lord is not finished with you yet. Do not die before you are dead.

Brother Paul could not live in the tombs: "Brethren,...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).

There is no need for your present to be ruled by your past. There comes a time to quit making excuses and start living again. Let us pray that Christ will do for us as he did that other man (Mk. 5:18-20), that he will get us out of the cemetery and doing his work with a fervent spirit (Rom. 12:11).

If it is sad when a Christian goes and dwells in the tombs, it is sadder still when a whole church does. Sometimes congregations too will throw up their hands and die before they are dead. A church's own members have been known to roll it to the graveyard.

But what could be more faithless and short-sighted? Will we give up on the church of the Lord? This is not some corporation or social organization, whose fate depends on the talents of men. This is the Lord's church, which he bought it with his own blood. He will not cast it off unless it casts him off (cf. Rev. 2:5). He continues to command it, and he continues to work in it and hope for it.

Perhaps we would rather it were not this way. In our minds, perhaps, we are the ones who built the church. We paid for it, and it is ours. If, then, we have setbacks that seem beyond our power to fix, we are ready to "face the facts" and die. But is this the "realism" that we say it is? Let us call it what it is: faithlessness and ingratitude.

Sometimes, we will frown and say, "We only have a little." We only have a few members. We only have a few youth, a few baptisms, a little money. We don't have this and we don't have that. But this is no cause to surrender and die. When has the King told us to surrender? What the Lord commands is faith. Was it not our Lord who fed five thousand with just a few loaves and fishes? Then we have a Lord who can take a little and truly make something of it.

If we are faithful and do our best, if we persistently work and pray, there is no telling what God might do. In fact, if we look, we might see him doing it already!

Are we not the children of God? Then we should trust him and be faithful. Let us get out of the tombs and refuse to live there . . . unless, God forbid, we actually are dead.

By Tim Mize

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