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Buried Alive

On the Oregon Trail, at least some of the emigrants who died en route to Oregon were buried alive. The reason why was because the survivors were in a hurry.

For many years, cholera ravaged the emigrants along the Oregon Trail. Whoever caught it was dead—no cure or treatment existed. Usually, the infected emigrant died in 24 hours or less. If an entire wagon train stopped for an elaborate funeral, it would slow their progress. Too many delays meant the pioneers might not get to Oregon before winter—and then every-one might perish.

So, on most wagon trains, the burials became shorter and shorter as more and more people died. Some even abandoned the terminally sick by the side of the Trail, where they would eventually die alone. The more humane wagon companies elected a "watcher" to wait with the person while the wagons forged ahead. It wouldn't take long for the watcher to catch up.

Many watchers were in such a hurry that they started digging the grave long before their infected companion was dead. Needless to say, watching your own grave being dug was probably quite disturbing. If you happened to linger too long, well, no one is for sure, but evidence strongly suggests that some were accidentally buried before they took their final breath.

That is disturbing isn't it? Yet, what is even more disturbing is that this very thing is happening today. There are many sick and diseased Christians that will soon wither away and die. They are spiritually diseased by the sins of the world (2 Peter 2:20-21). Their only hope is that some other healthy Christian will have enough compassion to see them nursed back to health (James 5:19-20).

Too often, sick Christians are left for their own burial. Their brothers and sisters in Christ are caring very little for their lost souls, they might assume that the church has already dug their grave. How does this happen? The same way it did on the Oregon Trail: we can be become too busy to stop and help the sin-filled soul along the way. We have programs that must be accomplished; we have fellowship opportunities, worship assemblies, and fun activities. "If somebody falls off the wagon, they do so at their own peril." Brethren, this ought not to be!

Perhaps, this meaning, it would do us all well to think of some person who has fallen away from the faith and decide what kind of effort we can put forth to help them—and I certainly do not mean digging their grave for them. I'm talking about helping them out of Satan's grasp and helping them catch up with the rest of the wagon train (Jude 23).

—From My Heart to Yours, Jason Hart

via Glad Tidings of Good Things
Volume 11 (June 11, 2006), page 3