The Best Is Yet To Come

I grew up in a small rural community and my grandfather was the patriarch of the family, which included his six grandkids and the whole bunch of us grew up within a five minute walking distance. I’m the youngest of the bunch, and only two of us are left. At my age, death becomes a reality that the mind can’t avoid. I have six wonderful grandkids of my own and I’m certainly in no hurry to go. But, many of my friends have passed – some quickly and painlessly and some lingering through long periods of low- quality life and I have recently given this part of life much prayer and thought.

Over the years, I have found aha moments that are very insightful in this regard. Here are some:

  1. An editorial by William F Buckley a few decades ago. Bill had gone in for his quarterly physical exam. After the examination, the conversation with his doctor went something like this:

    Dr.: Bill how long’s it been since your last physical?
    Bill: Maybe four months.
    Dr.: It’s been over six months. Have you stayed on your diet?
    Bill: Not really.
    Dr.: Have you been doing your exercises?
    Bill: Occasionally.
    Dr.: Bill, do you want to die of a heart attack?
    Bill: (after a moment’s thought). I guess that would be okay, what do you want to die of?
    Aha – Quality-of-life is important and so is quality-of-death.
  2. The sermon, The Best is Yet to Come, is primarily about spiritual growth, both for individuals and for the Church. It concludes with this very insightful anecdote:

    The preacher got to his new church and got a phone call early in the week. It was Aunt Lizzie, and Aunt Lizzie said; “Preacher, I want you to come see me and he said; “I’ll be there tomorrow.”. And she said; “Naw, I want you to come today”. He went today. She said “Preacher you will be here long enough, probably, to do my funeral and there are some things I want to get straight with you right now about my funeral. He said okay. She said, “I want you to bury me in my white bonnet.” Then she said; “Write it down. I don’t want you to forget it.” He wrote it down and she said; “I want you to bury me in my blue dress because everybody knows me in that blue dress – write it down – blue dress”. And then she said, “Preacher I want you to bury me with a fork in my hand.” He said, “Aunt Lizzie, I understand the white bonnet and I understand the blue dress, but why in the world do you want be buried with a fork in your hand”? She said, Boy, have you ever been in church suppers?” He said, “Yes ma’am” and she said, “When you are through eating and they come around to take your plate, what do they tell you? They tell you to keep your fork. You ever wonder why they tell you keep your fork? Son I’ll tell you why they tell you. Because the best is yet to come and I want people to walk by my casket and I want them to know that Lizzie believes the best is yet to come.”

In the last few weeks, two equally elderly members of our Sunday school class, passed. One was active, with high quality of life, until he died while in his sleep. The other, went through a couple of years of being virtually a shut-in. Then to a nursing home for a few months and then to hospice care at home for a few weeks.

I recently stumbled on the following:

  1. A prayer by John Wesley in his elderly years: “God grant that I may never live to be useless!”
  2. A sermon by Dietrich Bonheoffer. It gives great insight in this regard.