Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
“My daughter will be here soon, Pastor!” Those words, spoken to me this past Sunday, were in a decidedly Northern accent and were not spoken to me by a young man. In fact, the smiling gentleman standing near the front of the church to give me that happy news is our oldest member, some eighty-eight years old, in fact. And no, his name is not Abraham.
For several months now this dear gentleman has been keeping me updated on a rather unique move for his daughter. The young lady died a great many years ago and has been buried up North where the whole family lived for so long. But recently, brother Gordon and his sweet wife have been readying a family grave site in a local graveyard. They know that they are in the winter of their lives; they want to have their daughter laid to rest with them, not in some far-distant state.
“It was either the driveway or my daughter, Pastor,” he said with no regret in his voice. “I can do without the driveway; it’s gonna be good to have my daughter here with us. We are going to put flowers on her grave as soon as she arrives.”
The funeral homes down here and up there have worked well together, he says. He is also pleased that her vault is still in such pristine shape after having been buried all of these long decades. His daughter is in transit now, and by the time this column goes to press, she will be re-buried just a few miles from their home, and there will be lovely flowers on her new grave.
None of this is a matter of efficiency or Ramseyesque financial planning. The most efficient thing to do would be to leave her where she was; ditto the most sensible thing financially. But to those who understand the value of life and family, efficiency and financial outcomes are of secondary value. A mother and father will be able to regularly visit the grave of a beloved daughter now and then will ultimately be laid in graves beside her. They were together in life, and they will be together in death.
They will also be together in heaven.
The daughter knew Christ as her Savior, as do the mother and father. As such, before too many more years, these sweet parents will pass through death as if it is a thin paper barrier and will enter into her presence and the presence of the Lord, never again to be parted.
But in the mean time, they will be together in the best way they know how here and now.
Ironically, as I was at the desk musing on this a few days ago, I got a text from a young lady in our church. Dana and I have watched her grow up here from childhood, and now she is raising her own kids in our youth group. The text simply said, “Hello, preacher, I wanted to discuss where I want to be buried when it is my time.”
Now, as she is still young and healthy, you can imagine my surprise at that. “Ummmmm, what?” was my response. Her answer was quick in coming, “I want to be buried as a tree pod. I’ve looked it up, and if it’s okay with you I’d like to be buried on the church property.”
Bear in mind again, I know this young lady very well, and therefore knew she was kidding. So I quickly replied, “Sorry, we only have spots for kudzu.” That started a back and forth of crying/laughing faces along with “I can be kudzu! You’ll never get rid of me!”
I used to tease my own kids about going the kudzu route myself. They spent months in the backseat noticing kudzu as we drove down the road and going, “Hey dad! Hey dad! By dad!”
If you think about it, none of it makes “bare bones sense” (sorry, couldn’t resist that). We could save money and time by simply plowing people into the garden and foregoing even a marker. Why, then, do we take such pains to place, mark, and visit our loved one’s final physical resting place? Why does a sweet elderly mom and dad move heaven and earth to remove a casket from the ground in which it has lain for thirty years and transport it half a country away to where they live now, so they can spend a few years placing flowers on it?
Simply put, family is incredibly special. God gave it to us a gift in Genesis 1:27-28, and it is hard to think of any gift more precious and needful.
Feminist author Shulamith Firestone applied Marxist analysis to the status of women and argued that true liberation would come only when women were freed from childbearing. In Firestone’s utopian future, babies would be gestated outside the womb and raised by both sexes. “The tyranny of the biological family would be broken,” she wrote. But when she died at 67 years of age, her body went undiscovered for an entire week, when her landlord finally realized she was dead. (https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/Feminist-writer-Shulamith-Firestone-dead-at-67-11494024.php)
Contrast that heartbreaking example to the example of an old mom and dad who have spent nearly seventy years faithfully married, raised their babies together, and helped to raise grandkids and great grandkids as well, and are now moving a beloved daughter down to be with them in life and death. Contrast it to a young mother who was raised in a church youth group, got married, and is raising her own babies in that same youth group along with her husband. Family is not something we need to be liberated from; it is something that gives us liberation from loneliness and isolation.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner