Memorial Day provokes thoughts on past, future

Posted: Friday, May 26, 2006

As a young child, I remember going once a year with my family to the memorial garden in town where my two younger brothers were buried. It was a traditional ritual for our family.

Mom would gather all the children together along with Dad and we would go to the grave site at the city cemetery to visit, lay flowers and pray where the twin infant brothers were buried. Memorial Day was a time to remember those who lived and had passed on, back in those days.

In the years to come, other friends and family passed on and also were remembered on Memorial Day.

As I remember, Memorial Day was always a time to remember the departed.

Even with the changes in our social patterns from decade to decade as Memorial Day became more of a holiday, to me it was a solemn time for remembering those close to me who were gone.

Even though big department stores used Memorial Day as another day to sell items marked down as Memorial Day specials or promoted it as “the beginning of the vacation season” or as a great time to purchase barbecues and picnic items for the summer, somehow I have always felt Memorial Day was a day reserved for quietness and remembering the past.

It is a day to reflect on what life was really like for relatives who had passed away and gone to heaven.

My grandpa on my mom’s side passed away after a long battle with emphysema.

He was always known as a humble, yet generous man, who worked hard all his life. In his late 60s his health took a turn and he suffered greatly right up to his death.

Then there was my Uncle Newt on my dad’s side. He died suddenly while mowing his lawn in his later years.

Newt always had a smile on his face. If there was anyone who wanted to see people enjoy life more, it was Newt, always sharing a new joke or new story he had heard.

And the summer after she taught me, my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Vetter died in the beauty parlor while having her hair done. She was the best teacher I ever had and was only in her 40s when she died.

Maybe you have had relatives or friends like these.

One thing Memorial Day captured in my mind was the talk of life after death, what one might expect after they die.

It seems back in those days, people talked more openly about things like that. Today, people don’t talk much about what life after death will be like. It’s as though they’re afraid to.

The teachings of Christ are very clear about what life after death is. The Bible is filled with examples of what you can expect in the life hereafter.

Before I became a Christian, life after death was like a huge black hole.

I had studied Zen Buddhism and Eastern religions. They were culturally popular theologies in the early ’70s when I was in college.

I thought I might find hope for the unknown future, yet truth was really the core of what I was seeking in the life hereafter.

At best, it seemed to me the eastern religions held that when you die, you are back again on the same Earth, only in different bodies in a different time. We still have to face the same issues we faced in the past life: disease, economic pressure, catastrophic events beyond our control, suffering, sorrow and then aging and death again.

I think once through this life is enough.

I wanted something different in the life to come. I wanted a utopian eternal life. I needed something desirable where the body didn’t age, where there was no disease, no suffering, no sorrow or death.

I wanted to know now that when people I knew passed on they were in a better place. I wanted to feel relieved that after someone I knew died, they were going to a place that one day I would be able to join them and happiness would be eternal.

Every tear would be wiped away, every sorrow would be forgotten forever.

Does such a place exist?

According to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, it does.

In fact, he told us that he was going to go there and prepare a place for us and that he would return for us and take us there with him.

John, an apostle of Jesus Christ says, “He will remove all their sorrows,” Revelation 21:4.

The prophet Isaiah stated, “There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever,” Isaiah 25:8.

“This world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come. We are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.

He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer everything, everywhere.

You should look forward to that day and hurry it along. A world where everyone is right with God,” Hebrews 13:14, Philippians 3:20-21, 2 Peter 3:12-13.

These are just a thimblefull of what Christ has promised us in heaven. The rest of God’s after-death promises you will have to look up in the Bible for yourselves.

Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who have come and gone and imparted themselves on us. It’s a time to think about where we will be when this life is over.

Seek the Lord while he can be found. This world may be passing away daily, but his word will never pass away.

If you haven’t found the truth in your life yet, maybe you haven’t looked in the right place.

God has shown his great love for us in Jesus Christ.

If we could believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ is our savior and confess him as lord over our lives, we can have the confidence and peace that he has already prepared a place for us in that great place in eternity the Bible calls heaven.

This is the good news.

May the Lord bless your upcoming Monday as you reflect on the past, present and what to expect in the days to come.

Mark Conway is an evangelist living in Seward. You may contact him via e-mail, at

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