June 5, 2001
Here's a story that might interest you. Thanks to a reader for bringing it to my attention.
THE FORK IN THE CASKET
There was a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. As she was getting things "in order," she asked her pastor to come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes. She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scripture verses she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. The woman also requested that she be buried with her favorite Bible.
Everything went well and the pastor was preparing to leave when the woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.
"There's one more thing," she said excitedly.
"What's that?" the pastor replied.
"This is very important," the woman continued. "I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand." The pastor stood looking at the woman, not knowing quite what to say.
"That surprises you, doesn't it?" the woman asked.
"Well, to be honest, I'm puzzled by the request," the pastor said.
The woman explained. "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, `Keep your fork'. It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming.. like velvety chocolate cake or deep dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, `What's with the fork?' Then, I want you to tell them: `Keep your fork. The best is I yet to come'."
The pastor's eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the woman goodbye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death. But, he also knew that the woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She KNEW that something better was coming. At the funeral people were walking by the woman's casket and they saw the pretty casket and the pretty dress she was wearing, and her favorite Bible and the fork placed in her right hand, Over and over, the pastor heard the question, "What's with the fork?" And over and over he smiled.
During his message, the pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the woman shortly before she died. He told them about the fork and what it symbolized to her. The pastor told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it, either. He was right.
So, the next time you reach down for your fork, let it remind you, oh so gently, that the best is yet to come.