I want to tell you about something that was a real blessing to me.
We were visiting a village church which is famous for its twelfth century carvings, and I wandered round the graveyard looking at the gravestones. In among the usual kind of epitaphs, one caught my attention. This is what it said: ‘My dear friends, as you pass by just pause one moment and consider how it stands between you and God, and of the love and mercy that is to be found in the Saviour’.
This was the epitaph for William Manning, a farmer, who died in 1894 aged only fifty-seven. He was quite an ordinary man, employing one man and one boy on his farm, and head of a family consisting of his wife and seven children. But his epitaph speaks volumes!
Even after his death, he wants you to know that he would have considered you his friend, even if he had never met you before. And he asks you, in the most gentle and polite way to ‘pause one moment and consider how it stands between you and God’. Not very well, perhaps? Well then, ‘think of the love and mercy that is to be found in the Saviour’. And if it is well between you and God, even so, why not reflect on all that Jesus gives?
What a joy it was, in among all the epitaphs that, with good reason, I’m sure, pointed you to the people whose bodies lay there, to find one that pointed you to Jesus. And such an epitaph says so much about the man himself – his love of Jesus and his longing that others should know Him as he did.
Prayer: Father, thank You for William Manning’s continued witness through his gravestone. Lord, I ask that, like him, I would be more and more a person who gently and lovingly points people to Jesus. In His name, Amen.
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