“Progress” has created an interesting intersection in Pickerington, Ohio. I drive through the junction of State Routes 256 and 204 nearly every day. It’s an increasingly major intersection that has become an epicenter of commerce–a hotel, a bank, a gas station and, as of last year, a major shopping center.
Before the movie theater, Barnes and Noble, and Party City moved in, there was a cemetery. Pisgah Cemetery was established in 1852 at the intersection of 256 and 204 when they were just country lanes. There are 185 graves in Pisgah, including the final resting places of a few Civil War veterans.
Starbucks occupies the corner of the new shopping center directly adjacent to the cemetery. I’ve sat on the patio of Pickerington’s newest coffee shop many times. It’s an odd feeling to leisurely drink coffee 20 feet from a graveyard.
As I drove through that busy intersection this morning, a few things came to mind.
The bustling world moves busily forward, despite the fact that 185 men, women, and children were buried on that gentle slope. At this point, I don’t imagine most people who are channeled like drowsy cattle through the Starbucks drive-thru each morning even think about the cemetery immediately to their right. The world goes on. There are places to be and things to do. If the Lord doesn’t return first, the world will eventually go on without me and without you. We are not indispensable. The world doesn’t revolve around us and it’s foolish to live as if it does.
For those with eyes to see and hearts to understand, no matter what we construct, our time on this earth will eventually come to an end. For someone who doesn’t know God, that’s a morbid thought. “Why not just get your coffee, pass through the busy intersection, and move on, doing your best to avoid thinking about the end of life?”
Here’s why. For the Christian, “progress” isn’t about more businesses, better restaurants, and new forms of distraction. Real progress is passing through this life well in order to be with the Lord for eternity.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Phil 1:21-23)
You see, “Pisgah” is much more than the name of a cemetery in Pickerington, Ohio. Pisgah was the mountain from which God allowed Moses to see the Promised Land just before he died (Deut 3:27). Pisgah provided perspective.
Though it has been engulfed by “progress,” Pickerington’s Pisgah continues to provide perspective. Life on earth has a beginning, a brief middle, and an end. But earth’s end is not the end.
Distractions are everywhere. The easiest thing in the world is to pass through intersection after intersection without even acknowledging Pisgah’s presence. But, to aimlessly and mindlessly bounce from distraction to distraction without preparing for the Promised Land will be to waste my life.
My Pisgah moment will come. So will yours. We will finally experience the reality of what was approaching all along. To have carefully, deliberately, reverently made the most of my time on earth so that I am welcomed, by God’s grace, to be with Christ then? That will be far better than all this earth has to offer.
Living from day to day with such perspective is demanding. It requires discipline. It is a fight. It will be worth it.
I intend to fight for that mindset today. What about you?