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About "The Fork" . . .
by Barbara Smith

Several people have been circulating a charming little story, "The Fork." It is a parable of a dying woman who seems to have a better hope of heaven than her pastor. She makes the connection between keeping her fork at church suppers in anticipation of a tasty dessert with the hope that like the dessert, heaven is the best that is yet to come. So her insistence that a fork is placed in her right hand in her casket becomes the tool for her pastor to remind the mourners, "So, as you reach down for your fork let it remind you, oh so gently, that the best is yet to come."

I have received several copies. It is a warm fuzzy of a parable that reminds readers, "the best is yet to come." Now, no source is cited and no author is credited. ("Ar-r-r-r-r-gh!" said the English major!) So I don't know the origin but I bet the author doesn't know Jesus.

How can I declare such a judgmental, meanspirited generalization? Well, I, too, was touched by the sentiment, so touched I began to read it uncritically to my beloved aunt who is the twilight of her life. She might die soon, and I wanted to comfort her, especially since she once got a royal buzz out of church dinners.

As I read this story to my aunt, a red light went off in my head! This parable may be sweet but it is deadly. This little sketch says nothing of the shed blood of Jesus Christ!

The point behind "The Fork" is about as efficacious as the commendation to "Have a nice day." It's one of those "warm fuzzies" that diverts hurting hearts from resting in the HIGH cost our Savior paid! Heaven is only for those who place their faith in Christ! All the well-placed forks in the world cannot usher anyone into heaven.

This Internet whimsy is a deadly diversion that I might have passed on without comment. What on earth are we doing circulating this claptrap! What was *I* doing passing along comfort without conviction?

The best is yet to come, but only for those who have trusted in Christ! Heaven is home only for those who trust in Christ. The writer forgot to tell the truth in this charming story.

The Internet is an amazing source of good spiritual food! But dear friends, let us NOT "believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (I John 4:1)

Father, please make us like the Bereans were in our response to the interminable "forwards" sent sometimes without thought or prayer. "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, {to see} whether these things were so." (Acts 17:10-11)

Father, we would not be like foolish children, simply repeating what we hear, or think is sweet. God, we don't want to be like children who are tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. Father, even in our e-mails, may we speak the truth in love. (See Eph. 4:14-16)

Father, I tremble to see how perilously close I came to passing along a lie today, with the best of intentions to comfort my beloved aunt. Oh God, the stuff of the Internet's "spiritual" sites, of which I am a part, can be a powerful tool for advancing Your truth. However, God, they can be a deadly tool to ensnare and enslave our "good intentions." More than television was to our mothers' generation, e-mail may get into our minds and mess with our convictions. Righteous Father, keep us from the predicament that troubled Paul: "For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim 3:6-7)

© Barbara W. Smith 1999, all rights reserved
Permission is given to reprint any of Barbara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and Web site address.

Please send a copy of the publication to:
Third Floor Publishing
PO Box 827
Arnold, MD 21012

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