You’ve likely seen them, perhaps in the shape of a cross, alongside our highways, indicating a spot where someone died unexpectedly, usually in a tragic accident. In some areas they may no longer be allowed, but old ones can still be observed occasionally. They may be accompanied by flowers or other decorations. They speak volumes about the love and pain of family and friends who want others to be aware of the passing of their loved ones, taken from them in an untimely manner.
These markers serve as silent memorials to those who died such tragic deaths. They also serve as reminders of the temporary nature of life, and the fact that it can end suddenly, unexpectedly and painfully. They help us remember that people may not always be ready to die. And they help those who believe in God and Christ know there is spiritual help for those who want and need it.
There is an application that can be made from the presence of these physical markers of death. We are all traveling along a road that we call “life.” It also has markers lining its shoulders, more numerous and significant than those on our national roadsides. These point to real people and events in our lives. Mental and spiritual markers memorialize those who have died. Our successes and failures in things of the Spirit are also noted, not only for us, but, as in the physical markers, for all who travel with us.
We can probably carry this analogy too far, so let me suggest two final thoughts.
First, regardless of the nature of the events symbolized by the markers along the highway, they point out that life is real and that changes which take place are likewise real. Some seem to go through life as if it is little more than a dream, or perhaps a movie or play, far removed from reality. If we will pay attention and give some thought to the significance of these markers and other indications of reality, whether good or bad, pleasant or tragic, we will be in a much better position to profit from the messages they suggest.
Second, to expand a little on that possibility, a compassionate and sympathetic God continues to provide the help needed to deal with the changes these markers represent, whether positive or negative. He is a faithful and trustworthy guide who will lead us successfully to the end of our way. The markers may prompt sadness and grief for others, even for those we do not know personally.
Memorials, no matter where we may encounter them, are important, not only because they note the passing of others, but they also remind us and make us aware of things — lessons, events and people — that can make a difference as we travel the highways of life.