My mail box is overflowing with gardening and seed catalogs. I have to admit, I enjoy leafing through them. I enjoy seeing all of the new varieties of seeds and marveling over the beauty of the plants. My mouth waters every time I thrum through them and think about fresh ripe tomatoes and hot peppers.
The producers of those catalogs know this is a dead time of the year. They realize that most of us are locked up in our homes with hot fires in our fireplaces and dreams of warmer days. Backyard gardening is the last thing on our minds. Fortunately, winter will not last forever. Spring will arrive and planting time will come with it.
It seems a little foolish to focus on plants and seeds during a time when the ground is frozen. But it’s really the best time to do it. It reminds me of an emphasis the North Carolina Baptist Foundation is currently placing before churches. They are urging Baptists to consider making their wills during this quiet period of the year. Some will say, “I’ll get to that later.” That would be a bad mistake.
Did you know that LexisNexis, a leading global provider of legal information, reports that approximately 55 percent of America’s population does not have wills or estate plans? The percentage is even higher among Afro-Americans (68 percent) and Hispanics (74 percent). These percentages are tragic.
If you haven’t recorded your last will and testament, I would strongly urge you to make it a priority in the early days of this new year. Your action will assure your loved ones of your desire regarding your estate. As you consider your plans, please don’t forget your church.
I have conducted over a hundred funerals over the years. Some of them have been dear saints of God who faithfully supported their church and its mission service through their lifetime. Sadly, every one of them forgot to make their final tithe. By remembering their church in their estate plans, they could have made a final expression of their love and support for their church. It would have been an act of remembrance to support their church for years to come.
The NC Baptist Foundation calls this “Pay the Blessings Forward.”
All of our churches need to encourage their parishioners to consider the church in their estate planning. Before they do, churches need to set up clear guidelines to assure parishioners about how their gifts will be used in the coming years.
All of us hope to leave our families with something when we die. Remembering our church in our estate plans should be just as great of a concern for us.
The seed catalogs are piling up on the table in my home. If I use them during these cold days of January to plan for the spring, I will enjoy a great growing season, filled with vine-ripe tomatoes and burning-hot peppers. If I use these early days of January to update my estate plans, my church will enjoy a promising future.
The Rev. Wayne Wike is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Laurinburg. Reach him at [email protected]