The Man Beside The Road
The woods and scrubs of this back-road seemed to stretch for miles and miles. With soft rolling hills and contours of dense forest and open pasture, one can get lost in the peacefulness of North Florida. A few houses speckle the landscape far from the main road. Traveling this road took one away from the hustle and hectic pace of the main highway. In this setting it seemed odd to find someone along side the road sitting on the ground. And then I saw what was before him.
I had seen it a few days earlier as I passed by. My daily commute had brought me this way and I began to put the pieces of the landscape together with each turn and each hill. A silent white cross stood bathed in flowers with words inscribed upon it. A familiar scene in too many places upon the roads and highways of the land. Small memorials at the place of great sadness and tragedy. A moment in time changed the lives of a family, a group of friends, a community and a life. Silent memorials testifying to a love shared by others in death.
He sat before this scene of quiet solitude consumed in his own thoughts. I pondered his thoughts and desired to know more about what happened on a day that changed his life. There he was - alone in a world so beautiful around him - flowers draped over the staff of wood, touching with his heart memories of someone he deeply cared for.
In the back-roads of life we find the lesson of life and death haunting us. Death is all consuming and takes so much away from us. So often there is no understanding and there is no explanation of why. In a moment a life filled with happiness and purpose is taken by a tragic event of death. We sit before memorials of our memories and read the names of our loved ones with tear stained faces and want so much to touch them once more. The voices that once filled our lives are now silent and the hands that we could touch now lie folded in silent sleep. Memorials are the places of our hearts and the remembrance of the frailty of life.
"For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." (James 4:14) Death comes upon all men and so often without warning. Life is filled with all the thoughts and deeds of our desires and wishes. What is life but a time spent before death? It is so fleeting and so short and yet upon this short life eternity depends.
Our lives are not about this world but a better world that has been prepared for us. "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:55-57) The consolation found in Jesus Christ is the knowledge of sitting before our memorials is not a final act. We mourn and grieve the loss of our loved ones for the absence of the body. In Jesus Christ we find the solace and the peace to know that as we will travel that road one day we have a hope of the blessed assurance. Take a moment and read again 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Hope springs eternal for the children of God in the knowledge that life beyond this world is to be longed for and embraced with open arms. The back-roads of life will always bring us to remember how frail and precious life is. The comfort we have is found in standing in the shadow of the cross that held the Son of God. Before him we can stand secure in the "hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began." (Titus 1:2)
By: Kent E. Heaton Sr.
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