Two stories to start your day today: The first is an old one about a pastor who was visiting an elderly woman who had asked to see him to discuss her “final” arrangements.
She was very specific about what she wanted for her service, and she proclaimed to the pastor that she wanted an open casket for the viewing and visitation time. She then asked the pastor if he would make sure that as she was laying in that casket, she was buried with a fork in her hands.
This sounded very unusual to the pastor, so he asked her why.
She then told him a story about growing up in a home where her Mom and Dad did a lot of entertaining in their home. They would serve these extravagant dinners, and at the end of the dinner, as the dinner dishes were being removed from the table before dessert was served, her mother used to tell everyone to “Keep your forks! The best is yet to come!”
By having a fork in her hands in her casket, this elderly woman wanted everyone at her funeral to know that she knew that “The best is yet to come!”
The second story today is about another pastor friend of mine who with his wife was visiting an elderly friend in Florida. He and his wife made a special trip to Florida to visit this lady named Antoinette Johnson.
At 91 and living in a retirement home in Juno Beach, she loves the Lord with great devotion. She is a diligent student of Scripture and can hardly wait to see Him face-to-face.
When they entered her apartment, one of the first things they saw was a huge sign reading: “DNR”—“Do Not Resuscitate.” Obviously, that sign deserved a comment.
Antoinette explained to her friends, “I don’t want some paramedic dragging me back when I’m just about to meet my Lord!”
Over her bed was a framed picture of the Mount of Olives. She said, “That’s the place to which He is going to return, and every night I literally fall to sleep with that thought hanging over my head.”
When I read that, I could not help but think, “How very much like Joshua.” In Joshua 23:14, we read some of Joshua’s final words spoken before he died, “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”
Joshua was aged when he spoke the words of chapter 23, and when he said he was going the way of all the earth, he was confessing he was near the portals of death; but his heart was resting on God’s promises, none of which had ever failed him.
How wonderful to retire each evening under the shadow of the Mount of Olives, to sleep with a promise for a pillow, and to awaken with the thought that soon we’ll awaken in His glorious presence forever.
Not one of His promises can ever fail.
Paul David Tripp has capsulized some of those promises and is right on target when he tells us that “He really is the ‘Father of mercies and God of all comfort’ (2 Cor. 1:3). He can do for you what no one else can do. He has power that no one else possesses. He is able and willing to meet you in your moments of need, even when that need is self-inflicted. He will never mock you in your weakness. He will not stand idly by and sarcastically say, ‘I told you so.’
He finds no joy in your suffering. He is full of compassion. He abounds in mercy. He will never walk away disgusted. He will never use your weakness against you. He has no favorites and shows no partiality. He never grows tired. He never becomes impatient.
He will never quit because he’s had enough. He will never refuse to give you what he’s promised because you’ve messed up so badly. He is just as faithful to all of his promises on your very worst day as he is on your very best day.
He doesn’t ask you to earn his compassion or to do things to gain his mercy. He knows how weak and fickle your heart is, yet he continues to move toward you with unrelenting and empowering grace. He delights in meeting your needs.
He finds joy in bringing peace to your heart. He really is everything that you need.”
Why would you run anywhere else in your time of weakness or trouble? Why not “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
The best is yet to come, and He is there, just waiting for you to come to Him.
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.