The majority of people die intestate; that’s to say they do not make a will. Such a situation brings difficulties for those left behind when the tragic moment comes perhaps unexpectedly, particularly for a spouse or close relative because they are left with the tasks of sorting everything out. If my own attitude until recently about making a will is the common one, then I would suggest you urgently reconsider the priority of settling your affairs before it is too late! Who’s to know when you will die? Only God has the answer.
When you are young you feel invincible; you are fit and vigorous and in your mind life stretches out before you. Death is a long way from you beyond a distant horizon. You believe there’s nothing you can’t do or achieve if you put your mind to it. Well, that’s what you think. At the age of forty you are told you have reached the top of the hill and maybe you feel it - you are on the downward slope to senility and inevitable death, and yet you reason, “Well, that’s a long way away, another forty years to go perhaps.” Your mind blots out the inevitable and you forget to reason that death could come at any moment – there’s no urgency for making wills.
An Elder at our church recently spoke of the difficulties there were for those left behind in a state of bereavement after a dear one dies intestate. Not only do they have to cope with the physical and real loss of someone precious to them, but they have to sort out a tangle of hidden things left behind shouting for resolution. ‘How is the gas bill paid?” and “What is to happen to the car?” and more importantly, “Who should inherit what?” I wonder, “Did he want to be cremated, or did he want to be buried?”
It wasn’t until I heard this from the Elder that I suddenly realised how important it was for me to make my will - after all, I am well past the biblical allotted time for a soul to live on earth. The Scriptures give us, ‘four score years and ten’, and sets out the exception that only ‘by reason of strength’ does a man live longer; yet we know also from the Bible that man lives for as long as God determines. The Elder went on to say that he appreciated it greatly when the wishes of the deceased had been set down in writing, particularly with guidance as to what should be included in the funeral service.
I gave this much thought and resolved to write a will and record what hymns and scriptures I would like for my funeral. What I didn’t expect was the attitude of mind I would acquire during the process. I was greatly humbled and profoundly thankful for the life that had been given to me. I became acutely aware that every minute of it is precious as the seconds tick by. Another unexpected result of the exercise of writing a will and setting down what I want included in my funeral service was a grieving for the imaginary loss of those near and dear to me because they would no longer be with me. Of course, in truth, I shall never experience such a loss, because I shall be with my Lord in life beyond death. As I thought of these things I was awestruck with the power of God, His goodness and love.
Not only for the practical value of writing a will and preparing for ones death, but for the benefit of gaining an insight into the value of life itself, I would recommend everyone to prepare for the inevitable by taking pen to paper and setting down in black and white your wishes. There is no greyness in the future beyond the grave, only black or white – which do you choose? Do you opt for the searing whiteness and brightness of the glorified Christ, or the loneliness found in the utter darkness of everlasting death?