Here is a classic re-posted from 2001
Working in my study one summer afternoon I found myself struggling to concentrate. At the time my charge was a small country church near a cemetery bordered in back by a stream. I thought a walk would do me some good and refresh my powers of concentration. Picking up my walking stick at the door I started off across the road, through the cemetery and woods. I spent an hour or so watching the water run over smooth stones and listing to the music of water and birdsong. I prayed some but mostly just sat quietly with the company of my thoughts.
It is just as easy to loose perspective in ministry as it is to loose concentration in study. It’s easy to forget the motives that originally pulled you into the service of Christ, loosing sight of the rewards you anticipate in eternity.
My spirit refreshed I made my way along the stream and through the trees back to my study. On the way I noticed how different the church looked from the perspective of the cemetery. I don’t think I had ever seen it from that angle before.
When I was a boy my Dad would take me on walks through cemeteries some and teach me etiquette and read the gravestones and give me some historic perspective on the lives of the people whose remains lie there. Walking back I remembered those times and the quiet, reverent way Dad always spoke when walking among the headstones.
My eye fell on a familiar name and stopped me where I stood. The name of the headstone was Eva Ernest. Beneath her name was the year of her birth followed by a dash. Eva was a long time faithful member of the church and an every Sunday attendee. She taught Sunday School there week after week for decades. She sat and listened to my messages every Sunday.
I stood quietly while a sobering reality stole over me. Everyone to whom I preach has a place somewhere on earth where their remains will lie after they have heard their last message. The date of their last day on earth will be chiseled in stone somewhere someday.
Where will my headstone be and what date will follow November 3, 1958? And what difference will it make that I lived? What will I have accomplished and whose life will I touch for eternity during my short earthly dash?
It made me want to get right back to work. In the little village church of my boyhood we sang an old hymn you don’t hear these days. One phrase of it still rings in my heart: “Work for the night is coming, when man works no more.”
(From Stonebridge Newsletter – Number 47)