I do not know who coined the above phrase, it may have been W.C. Fields or some other great thinker, but all of a sudden it has new meaning to me.
It started innocently enough. I was sitting in my living room the Monday morning of our meeting reading the local fish wrapper, uh, newspaper. For some reason, I happened to look at the obituaries (I never read the obituaries). There it was. One of the deceased was "Eugene A. Taylor" (Mine is "Eugene L." but don't ask, for only my mother uses "Eugene" and wild horses could not drag out of me what the "L" stands for). I must have "harumphed" or something because the meeting preacher, Steve Dewhirst, asked me what I was reading. I told him, "My obituary" and we laughed.
I gave no more thought to it. But the next day we got a letter from a company that sells grave-markers and headstones. We laughed again. Then in the next day's mail we got another. Both of them had been addressed to my widow. I must admit by this time I was feeling a little unsettled. Even though I knew I was still alive, all this was making me uncomfortable.
On Thursday night after we got home from the meeting, there was a message on the answering machine. It was a sympathy call to my widow from a former friend of the deceased Mr. Taylor. A little later the phone rang. It was the same friend making sure we had gotten his message. Sandy, my wife not my widow, related to him that he had gotten the wrong "Eugene Taylor" but that still did not make me feel a whole lot better.
While I was glad it was not me this time, someday it will be. Those letters will have reached the correct address. Those calls will be real. I started to think, "Am I ready?" I must be for it can happen at any time. Just being a preacher does not secure anything for me. The apostle Paul said that he had to buffet his own body lest after preaching to others that he himself might be a castaway. (1 Cor. 9:27)
You, too, need to be prepared. It is appointed unto man once to die but after that comes the judgment (Heb. 9:27) when all of us will stand before God and answer for the things we have done in the body (2 Cor. 5:10). Death can come at any time.
Yes, the reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated -- for this time but not forever. Both you and I must prepare for the time we exchange worlds.
Start preparing yourself today. Live by the will of God. Oh, and never call me "Eugene."