1993 to 1995 was one of the strangest times in my career. I left MPS in 1993 after three years as a substitute teacher, hoping to find a new path of employment. During this time, I worked many temporary jobs, Temp to Hire assignments and answered many classifieds. One of the strangest ads I answered was for a sales job with full benefits, some weekends, no travel and a starting income of 45k. I was intrigued so I mailed my resume and received a phone call a week later.
I was offered an interview and we agreed on a time. The employer offered to meet for breakfast at a local McDonald’s at 8 am, claiming he had a tight schedule. (Red Flag #1)!
I arrived and met the interviewer. I politely refused his offer to buy me an Egg McMuffin and settled down in a booth. He produced my resume from his jacket pocket, unfolding it while searching his other pockets for a pen. I ended up giving him mine.
He went through my resume while wolfing down his sandwich and hashbrowns, occasionally grunting his approval of certain work experiences I had completed. In between bites, he asked clarifying questions and nodding thoughtfully at my answers. He finished his breakfast and said, “Let’s take a ride!” (Red Flag #2). I thought this was odd but agreed and we went out to the parking lot. He led me to a late model Caddy in pristine condition. After unlocking and opening the passenger door, he moved around to the driver’s side. He opened his door and said, “Let me show you your office!”
I was excited to hear that I had the job, although I was still fuzzy about what I would be doing. Against my better judgment, I got in the car. He pulled out of the parking lot and made two quick lefts, which landed us at the entranceway of a cemetery. With a push of a garage door opener, the gates swung open and we started to creep slowly among the gravesites.
He explained that the job was selling headstones. Along the way, he pointed out several by simply stating the commission he made from the sale. He pointed to a larger one, proudly stating that this one allowed his family to go to Hawaii for a week (Red Flag #3).
After the tour, we arrived back at my car. We shook hands and I informed him that I would talk over his offer with my wife and get back to him by Friday. It was a short conversation and I never called him back again.
I have nothing against cemeteries and I know that there are people who make a good living providing that service but I knew it wasn’t the job for me.
I was reminded of this experience the other day when I took my son Jon out for a walk (see “The Amazing Jon”). Walking back to our house, we took a shortcut through the cemetery next door. This one, on Forest Home Ave, is an older one, with most sites occupied by those who have passed in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The latest date I saw was a gentleman who had passed during WWII. He was Military because of the American Eagle engraved into the headstone.
Headstones are interesting to me. There is a name and sometimes a word that describes their relationship of HUSBAND, WIFE, SON, DAUGHTER, etc. This is followed by two numbers, the day they were born and the day they died.
The most fascinating item on the headstone is also the smallest. It is a simple dash between the two dates. This small line represents a person’s entire life. A dash encompasses a lifetime of achievement, loss, joy, and sadness. It represents their mountaintop moments as well as their struggles and low points. Successes and failures, love and loss, laughter and sorrow are reduced to a single chisel mark.
These headstones are also neglected. They do not have any flowers by them, an indication that no one has visited them recently. Some are leaning over and some are actually on the ground due to weather or vandalism. Some are so faint they can’t even be read anymore.
All those people are now forgotten, except by some distant relations somewhere. The only thing they have in common, two simple dates connected by a dash.
Today, we celebrate Jesus. Easter Sunday is a day to remember the one person in the history of the world whose life was not contained inside a simple dash. Like us, Jesus was born. We celebrate that event at Christmas. Like us, Jesus died. We reflect on that event on Good Friday. But that is not the end of the story!
Jesus is the only person who has a third date. His resurrection enables him to add another dash between his death and his resurrection. And his story continues to this day and until the end of the age.
We celebrate Christmas but without the Resurrection, it is just another birthday. We mourn his death on Good Friday but without the Resurrection, it is just another funeral. We worship Jesus, not for the first two events but for what he did for us on that third day, rising from the dead!
His resurrection is the reason we worship Him. It is why we have our hope in dark times. It is why we have faith in His words and why he is revered two millennia after He walked the earth. We remember this day, His resurrection that proves to the whole world that He is our GOD, our KING, our LORD, our SAVIOR, and OUR friend. And we hold fast to His promises that one day after our headstone is placed and our two dates are inscribed for future generations to ponder, Jesus will return and add a third date, a date when we will be resurrected into HIS kingdom.
Prayer: Dear Jesus. Thank you for restoring our hope for a life after our two dates. Help us as we look forward to your return to teach others your message that death is not the end and there is a way to live beyond our earthly life. Lord Jesus, please return soon. While we wait, help us to be more like you.
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Read “You Turned My Mourning into Dancing“, the true story of a small part of my dash that tells how I came to Jesus.