Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Bottom Line


            “Everybody’s bottom is in the back,” my three-year-old son announced one morning. His simple observation is a universal truth. No birth defect results in people’s bottoms ending up anywhere else than behind them.
            Sometimes the most obvious truths elude us. For example, a young widow spoke at a conference and said, “I want to tell you something shocking but absolutely true—you’re going to die, and people you love are going to die. It’s normal to die! We don’t think about it until we have to, but it’s a universal fact of life.”
            When my youngest children were still pre-schoolers, they were playing in the front yard with our beloved dog Mo. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, Mo made a beeline for the street right in front of a car. He died instantly.
            We put Mo into a cloth-lined box and buried him in the backyard under the apple tree. My oldest son played “Taps” on his trumpet, and we all stood around the grave talking about Mo. As much as we want to shield our children from sorrow and suffering, that is not possible. I used it as an occasion to talk about the reality of death, even my own.
            “Our life is in God’s hands. He knows how long we will live and when we will die. That may happen to me or someone else you love before you grow up. I want you to know that when I die, I will be safely with God, so you don’t have to worry about me. You will be sad and will miss me, but Daddy will take good care of you. He will be sad too, but with God’s help all of you will adjust and find happiness in life even if I cannot be with you.”
            My husband and I answered their questions and told them they could talk about this with us whenever they wanted
            Since death will touch us all—even our children—we should prepare them for it by assuring them that God is in control and will take care of them, no matter what happens. Some practical preparations will also help.
            Have a legal, updated will that stipulates a guardian for your minor children. Consider writing a “final love letter” to your children and other loved ones. They will cherish your thoughtfulness. You can also list your desires for a memorial service, such as favorite songs and Scriptures.
            Don’t be the only one who knows where the legal papers, vital documents, and valuables are kept. Put a note in your wallet or jewelry box about where to find these things, or instruct your lawyer or executor about them.
            If you are married, put both your names on all important documents like bank accounts, deposit boxes, titles, investments, and even utility bills.
            Finally, fill out and sign an Advanced Health Care Directive so your loved ones will be able to make medical decisions for you according to your wishes, should that become necessary.
            The reality of this life ending also mandates that we prepare for the next life—eternity.  Reading the Gospel of John is the best place to start. Ask God to show you how you can know you are ready to meet Him. Your children need to learn this as well, so they will not fear death.
I realize this is not a happy devotional, but life is temporary. A wise mom prepares her children for the next life and for unpleasant eventualities in this life. Thankfully, I did live to raise my six children and am now enjoying grandkids.
            The unpleasant but obvious reality of death should help us all to keep our trust in God.  “I trust in You, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:14-15). Your children need you to discuss death with them. You’ll be glad to get it all behind you—kind of like your bottom!

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