The sound of Martha's voice on the other end of the
telephone always brought a smile to pastor Jim's face. She was not only one of the oldest members of his congregation,
but one of the most faithful. Aunt Martie, as all of the children called
her, just seemed to "ooze" faith, hope and love wherever she went. This time, however, there seemed to be an unusual tone to her words.
"Pastor, could you stop by this afternoon? I need to talk with you."
"Of course I'll be there around three. Is that okay?" It didn't take long
for Jim to discover the reason for what he had only sensed in her
voice before. As they sat facing each other in the quiet of her small
living room, Martha shared that her doctor had just discovered
a previously undetected tumor. "He says I probably have only six
months to live."
Martha's words were naturally serious, yet there was a definite
calm about her. "I'm so sorry to . . . " but before Jim could finish,
Martha interrupted. "Don't be. The Lord has been good. I have lived
a long life. I am ready to go. You know that." "I know," Jim whispered
with a reassuring nod.
"But I do want to talk to you about my funeral. I have been thinking about
it, and there are some things that I know that I want." The two talked
quietly for a long time. They talked about Martha's favorite hymn's, the
passages of scripture that had meant so much to her through the years and the
many memories they shared from the five years Jim had been with the church. When
it seemed they had covered just about everything, Aunt Martie, paused, looked up
at Jim with a twinkle in her eye and the added, "one more thing
pastor. When they bury me, I want my old Bible in one hand and a fork in the
"A fork?" Jim was sure he had heard everything, but this caught him by
surprise. "Why do you want to be buried with a fork?"
"I've been thinking about all of the church dinners and banquets that I
attended through the years," she explained, "I couldn't begin to count
them all. But one thing sticks in my mind at those really nice get-togethers,
when the meal was almost finished, a server or maybe a hostess would come by to
collect the dirty dishes. I can hear the words now. Sometimes at the best ones
somebody would lean over my shoulder and whisper, "you can keep your
fork." Do you know what that meant? Dessert was coming!
It didn't mean a cup of jell-o or pudding or even a dish of ice cream. You don't
need a fork for that. It meant the good stuff like chocolate cake or cherry
pie! When they told me I could keep my fork, I knew the best
was yet to come! That's exactly what I want people to talk about at my funeral.
Oh, they can talk about all of the good times we had together. That would be
nice. But when they walk by my casket and look at my pretty blued dress, I want
them to turn to one another and say "why the fork?" That's when I want
you to tell them that I kept my fork because, "the best is yet to
This World Is Not My Home
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