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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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Looking Ahead

Ever read something that leaves you wanting to know a whole lot more? Back in the April, 2006 issue of Readers Digest, Robert J. Cloud posted this little blurb on page 146: "Ever hear the old chestnut, 'Nothing is carved in stone'? The people who placed this ad in the Whatcom Independent (Bellinhham, Washington) haven't: 'Used Tombstone, perfect for someone named Homer Bergen-Heinzel.' Is it just me or does that ad leave you, too, wondering what happened to Mr. Bergen-Heinzel? I can think of a few possibilities, but I will leave the issue to your own imagination. The point I want to get across in this little blurb is that sometimes people just don't plan and look far enough ahead. As modern Americans we live in an era when looking and planning ahead is all the rave in many ways. Education and financial experts encourage parents to plan ahead for their kids' college education. Financial advisors encourage families to establish and maintain an "emergency fund" to be used in case of a serious loss of health or loss of a job, etc. And in an effort to look ahead, millions work out a plan for retirement. People plan their meals and weddings and their families and their careers and their vacations and their retirement and even their funerals. All this planning has much to commend. The problem is that sometimes we fail to look ahead in the most important way of all. If you judge just by people's actions, you are forced to conclude many people make absolutely no effort to look ahead to death and what lies beyond the grave. Playwright Arthur Miller died on February 10, 2005. CBS News reported his death the following day revealing he was once asked about composing his own epitaph. He replied he had never given it any thought and then added, "I expect to be here

indefinitely." But he wasn't. His failure to look ahead reminds us we should.This is a point at which some in the ancient world of the Bible were far out in front of so many in our own modern age. They looked and planned ahead, not just at what would happen months or years or even decades from now. By faith they looked past time out into eternity! Hebrews 11:20-22 gives the briefest summary of the faith of three men who looked way, way ahead: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones." These men didn't know about space telescopes and long-range binoculars, but they still looked far, far ahead. By faith they saw a time hundreds of years after their own lives would end when all the promises God had made to Abraham would come true here on earth (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:7, 13-14; 17:1-8, etc.) . But beyond even that, they looked ahead to a day when they would inherit the city whose builder and maker is God, the eternal homeland the Bible calls heaven (Hebrews 11:10, 13-16)! It's not enough to preplan our lives and funerals. By faith we must look ahead and prepare for our rendezvous with God. Are you looking ahead?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ