Pastor Clay Faulk
Have you ever thought about what you want to have written on your tombstone?

Some of the better epitaphs on tombstones are, “I told you I was sick!” “Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a 44. No Les, no more.” Guess who’s this is, “My Jesus. Mercy.” – Al Capone.  

I think most people avoid talking about death as much as possible.

You have probably never been to a party where the subject was part of the conversations. In general, even at after funeral gatherings, people avoid talking about death. We, our society, works hard to avoid getting old. We take pills, vitamins, cosmetics and even cosmetic surgery, and everything that promises to help us look and feel younger. But the truth is, even with all of our efforts, death will certainly come for each of us.

While I am not a betting man, I would bet you that your church saw a marked increase in attendance on Easter Sunday. Just as it did at Christmas (We clergy call many of you folks who come on those two days, Poinsettias and Lilies). Christmas is of course a family time, you know “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” yuletide sort of thing. But Easter, I think there is something else that draws people to church. Aside from bunny rabbits, eggs, and new wardrobes, I think there is something in our DNA that wants to hear the story again and somewhere deep within us, we want to know how to beat death too. That’s the Easter story isn’t it. We never have a parking problem on Thursday or Good Friday, only on Easter morning. There is something about Jesus coming out of that tomb that people really long to know about.

I Corinthians 15:51-57 says, “…Let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true: 

Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!

The truth is, we cannot beat death, only God can. We can only have faith that we will be resurrected by our loving God. The great preacher Peter Marshall once told this story about death and I think it is the best I have heard. “There was a boy who was dying of a terminal illness. His mother read to him daily and cared for him. He realized that he was not like other kids and over time began to know that he was going to die. One day he asked his mother, “What is it like to die? Will it hurt?” She welled up and had to leave the room.

She prayed for an adequate answer and God gave it to her. She came back to her son and said, “When you were very small, you would play until you were exhausted and collapse on my bed.

When you awoke the next morning, you were in your own bed with your pajamas on. Your father had scooped you up and taken you to your own room and own bed. That is what death is like. You go to sleep and your Father in heaven will pick you up and lovingly care for you and place you in your own room in your own bed.”

The boy understood and was at peace with the answer. A few weeks later, the boy died and indeed, he was lifted up out of his death bed and placed in his own room in heaven.” Indeed, God has a place for you in heaven. John 14 tells us this truth as well. “Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live.” 

Maybe you can write on your tombstone, “I’m not here, this grave is empty and my room in heaven is now taken.” Until next time, blessings.

Clay Faulk is pastor of Providence Church on Jimmy Johnson Blvd and lives in Bridge City.