Prints in snow-covered cemetery told compelling story

By Ron Branch - Pastor

It proved to be a long, arduous trip home. Snow had fallen all afternoon, but it was coming to an end. Several inches had accumulated. The road was slick. But, the landscape had been so beautified by the fluffy white cloak.

It was 8 p.m. as I drove slowly past the church I pastored. At the time, I served the Willow Island Baptist Church located about five miles south of St. Marys, W.Va., on Route 2. The church holds in trust an adjoining cemetery in which many of the graves date back to the late 1800s. That evening, the parking lot had not been tampered by any type of traffic, and the slick, smooth glaze made an inspiring shimmering scene under the illumination of the church night-lights.

In keeping with my usual routine for Sunday mornings, I arrived at the church at 5:45 a.m. Though it was still dark, the snowy landscape presented a stunning visual. I parked the car and waded through the snow toward the side entrance.

But, something caused me to stop in my tracks. Despite the darkness of the early morning hour, I could see clearly that something had happened. My heart was broken by the implications of what I saw.

I saw a set of car tracks. Someone had entered the upper end and had driven around the circular cemetery concourse. It had to have been late at night or very early that morning before my arrival.

I could see where the car had stopped. Chunks of ice and snow had fallen off the car at that point.

I saw a set of footprints—-some man, for the prints were large and distinctive.

I could see that this man had stepped out to a particular gravestone about 20 yards out in the cemetery, and then returned to his car.

What was it that compelled this man, so late at night or so early in the morning, to visit that particular grave? Did he come to visit his wife’s grave? A child’s grave? Was a mother or father there?

I wondered what was he feeling? Pain? Anguish?

I wondered how was he feeling? Lonely? Depressed?

Some cold emotion blanketed the essence of his being like the cold snow on the silent stones.

We live in a lonely and hurting world. People are in some sort of emotional, mental and spiritual pain at all hours of the day and night.

Jesus Christ is the only one who is able to help us superbly when our humanity hurts so much. He said, “Come you that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He gives us peace. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you,” He assured. He gives us hope — the hope of reunion; the hope of a better place to live; the hope that can anchor a troubled heart to the sure promises of God.

This is a part of the power and blessing of the Biblical message that is bound in the Heaven-sent ministry of Jesus Christ.

But, this is a message that needs to be communicated, for many do not know about it. Christians need to share it. This is a message that needs to be re-affirmed often, for many forget about it. Christians need to live it.

God loves you. He is the God of all comfort, He says. Trust Him today for His peace. Though it is a peace that passes all understanding, it is real enough to experience, and sufficient at all times to strengthen your heart and mind.

By Ron Branch


The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.

The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.