I Didn’t See That Coming
4th Day LettersDecember 30, 2014
So here we are at that time of year when we tend to look back on the past year and make resolutions for the upcoming year. If you are like me, when you look back at last year, you will see that there are many things that occurred to which you can say, “I didn’t see that coming.”
This past year I had some friends pass away that I didn’t expect to lose. I also had several other friends diagnosed with life threatening diseases, and of course I never saw my own illness or my temporary blindness followed by my permanent visual impairment, or my loss of theability to drive on the horizon when 2014 began.
So what does the Bible tell us about looking ahead? At first it might seem confusing. On one hand we read: Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”
Now let’s review what seems to be a contradictory verse. In Matthew 25 we have the story of the ten virgins. We are told that five of them were foolish when they failed to plan ahead and bring oil for their lamps. Of course we all know the bridegroom came when the foolish virgins went to buy oil. Then the story wraps up with Matthew 25:13, “Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
I believe the first verses were telling us not to WORRY about the future; they were not telling us to avoid planning ahead. We really see the main point a few verses later in Matthew 6:33 when we read: “But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” So the key, I think, in both of these verses is to be ready for the future by aligning ourselves to the will of God. When we do this there is no need to worry, but there is still a need to plan. And planning is the main topic for today’s 4thdayletter.
In Genesis 27:2 Isaac says, “I do not know when I might die.” In James 4:14 we are told “you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears.”
I once read this cute story online: “A mother was explaining to her little girl about the death of her father. The mother said, “God has sent for your father and will send for us, but I do not know just when.” Finally the little girl said, “If we do not know just when God is going to send for us, do you not think we had better pack up and get ready? God might send for us when we are not ready to go.” This young child spoke a great truth. We should all be prepared because none of us knows when we will be called home. Are you ready?”
Each week in my writings I try to address spiritual matters, and I will continue to do this all year. Today, however, I want to address some of the non-spiritual practical aspects of being ready for our own deaths. This is an easy topic for me to write about because my career for the last 35 years has been in the life insurance and estate planning business. I have had my own planning documents in place for some time but it was only just recently that I planned out all of the songs and readings for my funeral. Have you done that yet? My wife and I have, after much discussion, just made the decision that we do not want to be cremated and we prefer a traditional burial. We have now chosen the site for our burial. Have you made these decisions?
I hate the fact that this is such a morbid subject to start the New Year off with, however none of us gets out of here alive, and New Year’s is the time most of us plan for the year ahead. Here is a short list of things to think about.
- Do you have a will or better yet a revocable living trust?
- If you do have one, when it was last reviewed and updated?
- Do you have adequate life insurance?
- Are your beneficiary designations up to date?
- Do you know why you should not name your spouse or children as beneficiary of your life insurance and why it is better to name a trust for them?
- Have you decided between cremation and traditional burial and communicated your desires?
- Have you selected your burial location and plot?
- Have you selected songs and Bible verses for your funeral?
- Do you have computer passwords for your financial matters that need to be communicated to your family?
- Have you made provisions for your church or other charities in your legal documents?
- Have you taken the time to write a personal letter to be given to your spouse, children or close friends after the time of your death or even better yet with modern technologies have you recorded a video for your family to view after you pass? This is a great way to say those final goodbyes. I strongly encourage you to do this.
This list could go on and on. These are just a few of the practical things to think about and prepare for. I highly encourage you to seek out the assistance of your minister or priest, an attorney who specializes in estate planning and a professional life insurance agent to help you make these decisions.
Finally, as important as all of these non-spiritual planning points are, it is even more important to be ready spiritually. Make sure your New Year’s resolutions include spending more time in prayer with God and time fulfilling the calling we all have to spread the good news to others.
I pray that the Lord will be close to all of you in 2015 and that you will always feel surrounded by His love, grace, peace and mercy. Happy New Year!