The man lay in his casket… holding a fork.
Certainly not a description I expected to hear from my husband after the funeral he recently attended, I stopped chopping vegetables to hear the full story.
The man was well-known in his large family for saying at the end of every meal, “Keep your fork! The best is yet to come!” in anticipation of the delicious dessert always sure to follow.
A former pastor, the man wisely applied this belief to life — and death. So, as a powerful symbol of the gentleman’s spiritual legacy, his family decided to bury their patriarch gripping a fork in his hand.
I cannot get the image out of my mind, this man of God holding a fork in his hand.
And I wonder… is this how I live my life — as if the best is yet to come? Is this how I am teaching my children to live their lives?
Or, instead, am I so restless in the rigmarole of my run-of-the-mill Midwestern life, in my unremarkable little corner of the world, that I unwittingly evoke a cynical is-this-all-there-is attitude?
Because I’ve always wanted to accomplish “something big” for God — something exciting and memorable, something influential and adventurous — I’ve been overly nonplussed lately by the humdrum routine of house cleaning and grocery shopping and carpooling, of dance classes and school work and home repair, of doctor visits and haircuts and dirty clothes.
But I’m reminded that even my friends across the globe — medical missionaries literally saving lives and souls for Jesus in a remote mountain village — speak of their own version of cultural tedium: imminent good-byes and guinea-pig dinners, long lines and governmental red-tape, bumpy mountain roads and unreliable workmen.
So the man holding the fork in his hand reminds me that the “something big” for which I’ve spent inordinate amounts of time searching and longing is really the Someone big who hones me and molds me in the monotony.
And so, whether our work for the Lord is lived out in teensy small-town America or in remote mountain villages overseas — in factories, schools, churches, offices, slums, farms, hospitals or homes — we must never, never expect endless wells of contentment and joy to come from what we do for God.
True contentment and joy come only from God — from the Maker Himself.
We must remember that “…now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12 CEV). Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised when our efforts in the here and now (even our efforts on behalf of the Lord) sometimes leave us feeling a little “meh.”
Because it is the then — the time when we’ll see God face to face in Heaven — that will bring everlasting fulfillment.
And that is the sentiment I want to pass along to my kids: a work-hard-for-Jesus-now attitude that looks ever-forward to the later, when we’ll see the Father up close and in person.
Because as good as this life can sometimes be, you still need to hold on to your fork: the best is yet to come!