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The Resurrection of the Dead
Avijah Powers felt moderately sure nobody would recognize him when he registered under an assumed name at the little inn. It was more than twenty years since he had left the town--a hard,
reckless boy, running away from a good father and a devoted mother because he hated goodness and loved lawlessness and his own way.
For years he had led the life of a vagabond. Then the spirit of adventure was aroused in him by the stories of the wealth of the Klondike. He joined one of the earliest parties, in that hazardous search for gold, and succeeded beyond his dreams. Now he had come back, with his old instincts, but with the wealth of a millionaire, and some strange compulsion led him to the village where he first drew breath.
He did not even know whether his parents were living or dead. It was altogether likely they were dead. With that conviction and without asking a question, he made his way in the August twilight to the graveyard, and to the spot where for three generations his ancestors had been laid.
Yes, there were new stones placed since he had been there. The sight moved him strangely. He bent to read the inscription on the first one. It was to the memory of his father, "Died, 1884. ’Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.’"
The date cut the man to the heart. His father had died a year after the only son had run away! And his mother had been left alone! But perhaps she had followed her husband mercifully soon. Again he bent to read, this time with tear-filled eyes, "Died, 1902. ’And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’"
His mother had been alone for eighteen years! She was but just dead -- in poverty, perhaps; certainly in loneliness. He drew himself up as if to shake off a hideous dream.
But the other stone - whose grave could that mark? They had no relatives except some distant cousins. Perhaps some one of them had done for his mother what he ought to have done in her long, desolate years. Again he stooped to read - his own name. "Abijah Powers. Born 1870; died--. ’The only son of his mother, and she was a widow.’"
It was his own gravestone, set up by his mother when her hope of his return was dead. Out of the depth of his memory there flashed up the story of the widow of Nain, and the gracious presence which spoke the word of life to her dead son. How many times his mother must have read and re-read the page, and how frequently she must have prayed that her boy, bone of her bone, and flesh of her flesh, might be given back to her arms!
The thought was anguish to the graceless son, and it brought him to his knees beside his own empty grave. With his hand resting over his mother’s head he wept as he had not wept since he was a child. They were gracious drops. Out of the mother’s love, which had found its cold comfort in the words of scripture for the grave that was no grave, there came, indeed, the resurrection of the real, living soul.
The widow’s son went out of the graveyard that night a new man. The world wondered what had happened to him. Money did not often make a man over from a devil to a saint; but that miracle seemed to have been worked in Abijah Powers. Nobody knew that the transformation did not come from the touch of Klondike gold, but from the power of love -- reaching from beyond the vale, and speaking from the cold marble of a gravestone.
Abraham Lincoln, America’s most beloved president, was anything but beloved while he was in office. The South hated him. The anti-war activists hated him. Democrats hated him, calling him a widow-maker. The media ridiculed his eyes, looks, and body, calling him a freak of nature. Harpers magazine so much as to call him a host of names in print: filthy story teller, despot, liar, thief, braggart, buffoon, usurper, monster, ignoramus Abe, old scoundrel, perjurer, swindler, tyrant, field-butcher, land-pirate.
But Abraham Lincoln would not stoop down to the level of his critics. He won over a lot of his enemies and critics by holding fast to this famous principle encapsulated in his second inaugural address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right.?
There was a widow who had “Rest In Peace” put on her husband’s tombstone.
When she found out that he left her out of his will, she had added, “TILL I COME.”
FROM MY DEPARTED HUSBAND
A couple from north Oklahoma decided to go to Florida for a long weekend to thaw out during one particularly icy winter.
Because they both had jobs, they had difficulty coordinating their travel schedules. It was decided that the husband would fly to Florida on Thursday, and his wife would follow the next day.
Upon arriving as planned, the husband checked into the motel. He decided to open his laptop and send his wife an e-mail back home. However, he accidentally left off one letter in her address, and sent the e-mail without realizing the error.
In Houston, a widow had just returned from her husband’s funeral. He was a pastor of many years who had been called home to glory. The widow checked her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends. Upon reading the first message, she fainted and fell to the floor.
The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:
Gladyce, a widow, attended church faithfully every Sunday. She would get there about 20 minutes early to sit and pray. This was her ritual. Just her and Jesus. She had been doing this for years. Then one Sunday a new family sat behind her. This was disturbing. She said, “Oh, well, they’re visitors and they may not be back next week anyway.” She thought she could put up with the small feet kicking at her back and the toy cars being driven on the top of her pew and loud whispers for lifesavers and trips to the bathroom that interrupted her prayer for one Sunday. Much to her dismay, one week turned into two and two into a month and she realized that they were here to stay. She weighed her options. She could change pews, but “no, that was where she and her husband had always worshiped.” She wasn’t willing to give up her pew. She could turn around and glare at them. She could pray at home for 20 minutes. One Sunday before worship was really bad. “Church was for quiet meditation and reflection,” she thought. She looked at the parents and the squirming children. She realized that the parents looked tired. “Perhaps I should just let them be,” she thought. Instead of yelling, she managed a small smile. The next Sunday she took lifesavers and offered them. The next Sunday she asked their names. She found out the oldest liked horses, the youngest liked cars and the middle one liked books. The next Sunday she was disappointed that they weren’t there. It didn’t seem like church without the tap of little feet at her back. Next week she invited the family over for Sunday Brunch and from there on a fast friendship grew.
Why those women loved and wept, it were not hard to guess; but they could not have had greater reasons for love and grief than my heart has. Nain’s widow saw her son restored; but I myself have been raised to newness of life. Peter’s wife’s mother was cured of the fever; but I of the greater plague of sin. Out of Magdalene seven devils were cast;—but a whole legion out of me. Mary and Martha were favoured with visits from Him; but He dwells with me. His mother bare His body; but He is formed in me, "the hope of glory." In nothing behind the holy women in debt, let me not be behind them in gratitude or sorrow.
As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.
Gary Thomas, Christianity Today, October 3, 1994, p. 26.
The next time you feel like GOD can’t use you, just remember...
Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
I’ve always liked the story of the 3 old widows who lived together. One sister got up to go to bed, half way up the stairs she stopped and asked "was I going up or was I coming down"
One sister replied with hint of aggravation, "you were going up to bed."
A second sister headed into the kitchen to make herself a sandwich. Once in the kitchen she hollered back to her sister who was still down stairs; "what did I come in here for"
The sister responded again with a trace of irritation, "you went in to make yourself a sandwich" after which she said; "I’m so glad I am not as forgetful as the both of you are" as she knock on the end table.
And then she got up and walked over to the door and said "Who is it?"
Yes, we are a forgetful people. And from my vast experience I have concluded that forgetfulness is not a respecter of age. And there fore we come up with all kinds of ways to help us remember; (string around finger; post it notes, day planners, memory courses). And most of us do need a little help to remember.
In a Scottish cemetery the following epitaph appears on a new tombstone:
Here lies Hamish McTavish,
Whose deeply sorrowing widow continues
To carry on his flourishing greengrocery business
At 11 High Street
Open daily until 8:oo