Well, I did it yesterday. I signed a contract to purchase my casket. It is very similar to the one pictured here.
Now please understand that I have no intention of using it anytime soon, but I think it prudent to prepare for the inevitable. And lets face it - nothing is more inevitable than death (Hebrews 9:27). Ironically, death is one of the most important facts of life, and the one for which we had best be prepared - physically and spiritually.
Linda and I began physical preparations for that final appointment several years ago when we purchased our mausoleum crypts at the cemetery high atop the top of the hill that overlooks our home and the nearby Ohio River. The decision to purchase the crypt, rather than traditional in ground burial plots, was not well received by our grown sons.
"A file cabinet?" one of them asked. "You're going to be buried in a file cabinet? WHY?"
The decision was a logical one in my humble opinion. First of all, it was cheaper. (I do like bargains - even those of the end of life variety). Another reason was that we had an excellent choice of interment spots, since the mausoleum was still in the construction phase when we made the decision to buy, and many of the most desirable spots were still available. Also, knowing how my boys understood my distaste for the never ending task of grass mowing, I thought they would surely understand the logic of my reasoning. After all, if I were buried in a regular cemetery lot, how could I ever rest in peace, with the knowledge that someone would have to mow the grass over me - again, and again, and again, and - well you get the picture! I also reminded the boys that, interred in the second row of crypts, I would have at least an 11 foot head start on other sleeping saints at the rapture.
In fact, I even used the subject of the rapture to witness to the cemetery sales person who wrote up our contract.
Linda and I had already decided it was time to make arrangements for our burials. The sales person seemed shocked when, while making a cold sales call, he heard me say, "Sure. Why don't you come over tonight?" He was at our door at 6:00 PM and was soon on his way "down the road to a sale". He must have been a new guy on the job, as he seemed somewhat nervous throughout the event. A few minutes into his pitch, I interrupted, "We want to buy, let's do it."
He explained that he HAD to go through his entire presentation, so we sat back and waited. We patiently listened to his sales spiel, and he finally came to the point where he asked us if we were ready to buy. That is when I decided to have a little fun with him.
"Can we just rent this thing?" I asked sincerely.
His reply was anticipated. "What?"
I repeated the question with the most serious facial expression I could muster. "Can we just rent this rather than buying?"
He finally admitted, "I don't understand."
That is when I explained to him that Linda and I were followers of Jesus Christ and that according to the Bible (1 Corinthians 15: 12-18 & 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18) the burial spot is not the final destination of the believer. Therefore, we would not need this crypt forever, just a temporary thing until Christ comes back for his church. They could then sell it again to someone who had been left behind.
"N-n-n-no", he stammered. "We can't rent them, you have to BUY one."
"Well, if we HAVE to, I guess we'll go ahead and take it", I sighed. So the deal was closed. We signed the contract for the crypt, the opening and closing costs, and the bronze plaque that identifies who's remains lie behind the white marble wall.
Yesterday's purchase of the coffin was the next step in making the physical preparations for death. Having ministered to many grieving families (75 of them just in the past 6 1/2 years) I have seen many cases where those left behind were forced to make difficult and very expensive decisions at the time of need - at the passing of their loved one. And that is precisely the time when they were least prepared to make those important decisions.
On the other hand, I have known many folks who had already made arrangements for their funeral details. It always seemed to be a comfort to their survivors that the loved one had taken care of those details. That is why Linda and I are making these arrangements now. While we both hope to be around here for a long time to come, we do not want our children to have to make those choices and face those expenses at the time of our home going. Our plan is to also purchase Linda's casket before the year is out.
Now I said all that about the physical preparations for our deaths to get to the point of the more important SPIRITUAL preparations. Thankfully, both of us made those preparations about forty years ago. We were convicted of the fact that we were sinful by nature, and that sin separates us from God. Unforgiven sin separates us from God permanently! We realized that apart from help from a greater power than our own, we were doomed to an eternal separation from God. So we came to grips with the aforementioned scripture - Hebrews 9:27-28 " He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation."
We turned from our paths to God's path and trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, and the deal was settled for time and eternity. Apart from Christ there is no hope. According to the Apostle Peter in Acts 4: 12, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
I hope you have made such preparations. Not just for death, but for what comes next! If not, then by all means, come to Jesus. Do it today.
THAT is what is really important.
Then you can ask the big question to the cemetery sales person, or the casket salesman - "Can I just rent this thing? I'm not going to use it forever!"