When I was a kid and went on campouts there were always the ghost stories. On those dark creepy nights, with the breeze whistling through the leaves, I would start thinking I wanted my Mom. One time, we were camping right by a cemetery with the tree branches rustling over the tombstones, and I was scared. Finally, the counselor said we were going to sing a little song, and I thought we would be singing comforting songs about Jesus. And then they started singing: "Did you ever think when the hearse rolls by that you would be the next to die?" Not very encouraging is it? It gets worse. "They'll wrap you up in a nice clean sheet. They'll put you down about six feet deep, and all will go well for about a week, and then your coffin begins to leak. The worms crawl in …." By then I was thinking, "Mama, I'm coming home." We don't want to deal with death.
A startup transportation company was delivering a dog to DFW airport when they found the dog was dead. Realizing how this would affect their business, they tried to find another dog and convince the lady that it was hers. After searching several pet shops, they found a similar dog. When they delivered the dog, the lady was horrified and loudly let them know that this wasn't her dog. They asked how she knew, and she said, 'My dog was dead. I had it flown here to bury it."
It is not only hard to deal with death; it is hard to talk about death. We use those religious terms. A little boy burst into his house and told his mom that he had found a big ugly lizard behind the garage, hit it with a board, zapped it with a rock, and threw it against the wall. The boy stopped short when he noticed the pastor sitting in a chair. He looked at the pastor and said, "Then the Lord called the lizard home."
It is said that the only two things we can't avoid are death and taxes. Taxes may be easier to deal with.
"Tax his cow, tax his goat. Tax his pants, tax his coat. Tax his crops, tax his work. Tax his tie, tax his shirt. Tax his chew, tax his smoke. Teach him taxes are no joke. Tax his tractor, tax his mule. And teach him taxes are the rule. Tax his oil, tax his gas. Tax his notes, and tax his cash. If he hollers, tax him more. Tax him 'til he's good and sore. Tax his coffin, tax his grave. And tax the sod in which he lays. Put these words upon his tomb: 'Taxes drove me to my doom.' After he's gone he can't relax. They'll still go after inheritance tax."
There is not much you can do about taxes, but there is something you can do about death.
A minister pulled into a busy service station at the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend. After waiting in a long line, the attendant apologized and told him that it seemed everyone waited until the last minute to prepare for a long trip. The minister responded that he understood, because he often had the same problem in his line of work.
Everyone will take the long trip one day. The Bible talks about sleep. We all anticipate our comfortable bed, don't we? Whether it has been a long trip or just a long day, nothing comforts like our own bed. After many hours of playing with the grandkids, we look at them and say, "Aren't they beautiful when they are sleeping?"
Sleep restores the body and the mind. Our soul does not sleep. Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with Him in paradise that day. The soul is your essence. When the body sleeps, your soul is with Him. An old country preacher was consoling a widow who was crying over her husband's body. He told her that it was just a shell — the nut had gone on to be with the Lord!
One day He will resurrect the body and give you a new one. An old southern church used to alternate between the men singing and the women singing. The women sang, "I'll get a new body," and the men responded, "Praise the Lord, praise the Lord." Then the men would sing, "I'm going to heaven soon," and the women responded, "Oh, glad day. Oh, glad day."
One of the most poignant stories I've heard is the true story of a father who lost his wife to cancer. He took his young sons to the funeral home to see their mom. Her facial features were reposed in perfect peace — beautiful in death as though formed by a sculptor. The dad stood there brokenhearted beside his little boys who didn't understand death. They didn't know people could die. Maybe birds could die, toads could die, dogs and cats, but this was too much for them to comprehend. Their dad tried to explain death to them when one of the boys said, "No, dad, she's not dead. She's asleep. I have seen her like this many times. She's just asleep. Mommy, wake up. Wake up, Mommy." The dad replied, "You can't wake her, son — but one day, Jesus will wake her up."