One of the illusions that we live with is that there is always plenty of time later on, so we procrastinate, full of good intentions, thinking that we’ll do that later. Take for example the administrative assistant who worked for many years for the Eastman Kodak Company. She never married. Her nieces and nephews were very special to her. When her nephew, Dick, was struggling to get through college and seminary, she sent checks quite often. He was the son she never had, and when he went overseas as a missionary, her love and respect for him and his lovely wife only increased.
Each year as part of her salary package, she was given stock, and those were the years when the Kodak Company was growing and expanding. “You hang on to that stock,” people told her. “It will be worth a lot someday.” They were right, too. And at her death, she really wanted some of that stock to go to her nephew along with other members of the family. She thought she had lots of time to eventually draft a will. But she was wrong. Felled by illness, she quickly lost strength and life failed her. How much did the family receive? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The state stepped in and froze her accounts and since there were no direct relatives, her estate was claimed by the government.
Good intentions just aren’t enough. The nephew who became a pastor of a large, thriving church was reminded of that truth a second time. Adjacent to the church property was a large empty lot owned by a businessman who attended the church. “Pastor,” he used to tell Dick, “I want the church to have that property for future expansion.” No one doubted his good intention. But he never told his attorney, or never signed the deed which would pass that property on to his church. When he suddenly dropped dead of heart failure, his good intentions were quickly forgotten.
Zora was much the same way. This little lady never married and had no family, but she had inherited property which eventually became quite valuable. She supported her church and sent small checks to Guidelines. When she learned what we were doing, she kept telling her best friend. “I want to include that organization in my will. I’ve got to get down to my attorney and include Guidelines in my will.”
You guessed it. Again good intentions fell short of accomplishment. Here’s a rule of thumb to follow: “Do your givin’ while you’re livin’ so you’re knowin’ where it’s goin’.” At least, make the decisions regarding your estate, the ones which you want to take place at your death, now. “Just a minute,” you may be thinking. “I’d prefer not to think about that.” Of course. Who wouldn’t? The American humorist Mark Twain said that he wished he knew where he was going to die because he would never go near the place. Obviously.
A wealthy industrialist who was suffering from tuberculosis left his home and had his chauffeur drive him west where he came into a little town in the desert. Pulling up in front of the general store, he lowered his window and addressed several of the men sitting in front of the post office. “What’s the death rate out here, Gentlemen?” he inquired. Looking at the large Cadillac and the driver in the front seat, they knew this man had money. But that wasn’t the issue. One man cleared his throat and replied, “Same as it is back where you came from. Just one to a person.” It’s still true.
The Bible says it is appointed unto men once to die but after that comes the judgment. May God help us to live with eternity’s values in view and consider that we have a gift from God which eventually must be left behind.
Resource Reading: Luke 12
Text: But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’’ Luke 12:20
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – July 11, 2017