I came across a story about a funeral last week, and had to share.
There was a young man who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been just a short time to live. So as he was getting his things in order, he contacted his pastor and had him come to his house to discuss certain aspects of his final wishes. He told him which songs he wanted sung at the service, what Scripture he would like to have read. Everything was in order and the pastor was preparing to leave when the young man suddenly remembered something very important to him.
“There’s one more thing,” he said excitedly.
“What’s that?” came the pastor’s reply.
“This is very important,” the young man continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”
The pastor stood looking at the young man, not knowing quite what to say. “That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young man asked.
“Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the pastor.
The young man explained, “My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’
“It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming – like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ‘What’s with the fork?’ Then I want you to tell them: ‘Keep your fork…the best is yet to come.'”
The pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young man goodbye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see him before his death. But he also knew that the young man had a better grasp of heaven than many people twice his age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. He knew that something better was coming.
At the funeral, people were walking by the young man’s casket and they saw the suit he was wearing and the fork placed in his right hand. Over and over, the pastor heard the question, “What’s with the fork?” And over and over he smiled.
During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young man shortly before he died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to him. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.
And he was right. So the next time you reach down for your fork let it remind you, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.
May the Lord bless each of you this week. I am praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.