I Made A Horrible Mistake

I was a young pastor. Our church building was not pretty nor on the favored side of town. But we had spirit. God was doing a work among us.

A rich man moved to town. His first wife had died. They had several children. He married a woman younger than himself---good marriage of about 40 years. They had a child. His wife had family in our congregation. She encouraged her life-long Methodist husband to visit.

He liked the church. He like me. I liked him. He stayed. I became his pastor. Over time our relationship bonded and became strong.

A phone call came. He was in the hospital with heart trouble and not expected to live.  I rushed to visit him. In the course of our conversation I asked him if he had made preparations to die. He assured me of his confidence that all was well between him and Jesus. We rejoiced for his salvation!

"But," I said, "I am also asking if you have made preparations with your Last Will and Testament?"

"I do not have a Will," he responded.

"My Brother," I said, "Do you realize that your children from two marriages could possess two-thirds of your estate and set your wife on the street out of her own home?" Such was the law at that point in time.

He was deeply concerned and gave me permission to phone a friend who was an excellent attorney. While waiting for the attorney to arrive he asked my advice. I gave counsel how to protect his second wife and minor daughter.I thought about suggesting he include the church in his will, but did not say it.

The will was drawn. It was such a relief to him that his health improved for a season. But a morning came that he died of a heart attack rather suddenly.

Children from the first marriage came to the funeral. They stayed in the family mansion with the second wife and their half-sister. It was a social time of family with everyone getting along and eating at the same table.

The funeral went well. There was consensus of family that he had lived a godly life. The coffin had to be hand carried to the grave high on a mountain native to his home. The commitment service done everyone agreed to return to the courthouse for the official reading of the Last Will and Testament by the Clerk of Court. The atmosphere was pleasant.

The will made clear that the second wife and minor child were to inherit the home, etc. There were lessor distributions to children of the first marriage.

In the cold silence that followed, jealousy and greed grew into a hellish hatred. The family divided. Children of the first marriage went out one door. The second wife and her daughter waited and went out the other door.

Children of the first marriage rushed to the mansion, gathered their things and left before the second wife and minor child arrived home.

To my knowledge all communication between the children of the first marriage and the second wife and her child ended that day.

God lost. He got nothing. I lost, because I did not speak up for God. My brother lost because he left nothing of what God had entrusted to him for Kingdom work. He could have made a huge impact for the

 work of Christ.

If he could have seen from heaven his family leaving the courthouse he would have re-written his will. 

I remain convicted of my failure. The gentleman loved me enough that he would have included God in his will. I was wrong not to advise him to invest eternally in his will. I had to ask God for forgiveness, yet the pain of loss remains.

The years have passed. A similar occasion happened. I failed God again.

I do not intend to fail God again. Therefore, I am putting in print what I think is right and just. I am also advising that Laila and I have a Last Will and Testament and Christ’s Church is included.

A Last Will and Testament should be done by every adult. Otherwise, a civil court must take control. Which means strangers can make decisions of what is left behind.

The rich person normally knows the wisdom of having a will.

Persons who think they are poor often disregard the importance of a will by saying "I do not have anything to leave." Such is foolish. If
they die via public transportation, should inherit, etc., they may have substantial estate. In addition, a will includes consideration for spouse and especially directions for minor children, bequests to charitable causes, etc.

Oddly, Western Europe is approaching America’s level of charitable giving. The difference is that contributions are heavily skewed to ecological and humanitarian causes with little regard for God. Generous? Yes, but humanistic.

It is distressing that Christians pride themselves in leaving everything to their children. They talk about loving the Lord and His Church, but when it comes to their possessions they lay claim to “family", genetics, etc. They think their children will love them more for things left behind. They do not consider the example they are leaving their children by leaving God out of their final act.  

Their children may not love God, tithe or even care about the Church. Worse, children who do love God may be disappointed at the lack of a departing parent ignoring God. Or children who do NOT love God may be confused by the “Christian” testimony of a departing parent ignoring the value of Christ’s Church. 

If you do not have a will please act responsibility and expediently.

If you DO have a will and have not included God consider a codicil (Google the word). It can be a handwritten and dated addendum to your will.

Jesus taught us “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” (Matthew 6:19,20). Let us practice what we pray.

My guilt of failure is somewhat eased by sharing with you godly advice.

Much love

Pastor Bare

Covenant Church