“Don’t be troubled. Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you. When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.” Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have really known me, you will also know the Father. From now on you know him and have seen him” (John 14:1-7, Common English Bible).
This is part 29 in the November Thanksgiving series, “Pass the…” for a listing on the other posts please see the index.
We have almost reached the end of our Thanksgiving series for November titled “Pass the…” So, would someone please pass the pecan pie? I told you several days ago how much I like cranberry sauce. Well, I think I love pecan pie even more. I don’t eat it very often. It really isn’t compatible with either my blood sugar or weight issues. It is loaded with sugar and carbohydrates. I know I just don’t need all that sugar.
My problem is, I love pecan pie. At one time in my life I would rather have had peach, cherry or apple, all of which can have, and often do have sugar free versions. I am not sure if it is even possible to make a sugar free pecan pie that actually tastes like pecan pie. Today, while I still eat more fruit pies than pecan pie, pecan pie is my favorite.
I am sure you must be thinking that today’s blog, by the title is going to be an analogy for the Church. The thought would go something like this, “The church is really sweet but full of nuts.” While that is funny, and often true, that wasn’t my plan at all. I already talked about the Church when we talked about cranberry sauce. Besides, it isn’t my fault you don’t like cranberry sauce and so you ignored the post about cranberry sauce and the Church.
As I have given thought to this, and the post a couple of days ago about chocolate cake, the thought occurred to me that some of us love something sweet at the end of our meals. And, pecan pie qualifies as really sweet. After all, it has like a gallon of Karo Syrup in it. There isn’t much sweeter than that. And, isn’t sweet the whole point behind pecan pie?
Yes, most of us do like something sweet at the end of a meal. There are exceptions of course. A former secretary of mine always wanted something sweet but she would save a few bites of savory because she didn’t want to get up from the table with the sweet taste in her mouth.
In our lesson, Jesus begins saying, “My Father’s house has room to spare.” In the King James it says, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” Then Jesus goes on to say he is going ahead to prepare a place for us.
This particular text is one of the most requested lessons at funerals because it speaks of the idea that our little spot of heaven isn’t ready for those of us who are still walking and talking and breathing and eating pecan pie. Yet for the deceased, the end has come, there place in heaven is now ready and they go now to join Jesus. There mansion, their room, is now ready. It has reached an end and now something sweeter is coming their way. It is the fulfillment of a promise God is making to each of us.
Can you think of anything any sweeter than what is still to come for all of us who still walk around in what Paul calls a used clay jar? As sweet as pecan pie may be, this would be sweeter still.
Several years ago there was an email that made the rounds of just about everyone’s inbox. It speaks to this idea as well. It is titled, “The Fork.”
There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things in order, she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.
She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in. Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her.
“There’s one more thing,” she said excitedly.
“What’s that?” came the Pastor’s reply.
“This is very important,” the young woman continued. “I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand.”
The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.
“That surprises you, doesn’t it?” the young woman asked.
“Well, to be honest, I’m puzzled by the request,” said the Pastor.
The young woman explained. “My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and 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 yet to come.”
The Pastor’s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young 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 young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She knew that something better was coming.
At the funeral people were walking by the young woman’s casket and they saw the cloak she was wearing 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 young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He 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, ever so gently, that the best is yet to come.*
The pecan pie, the sweet that comes at the end of our Thanksgiving meal. The Kingdom that is to come, the sweet that comes at the end of a faithful life. I don’t think there is much more we can ask.
So, would someone please pass me a nice piece of pecan pie?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Peace,
Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved