When People Are Standing Beside My Casket

Stan Nelson

It’s not what people are going to say about me, but what are they are going to be thinking in their hearts about me? In that moment, as they stare down at my earthly remains, what they are thinking about me is what I worry about. I am certainly not afraid to die. In fact there is a great part of me that looks forward to it. I will get to see my mom and dad and so many others that are already in heaven with Jesus and I can imagine how excited they are going to be when I can join them. It is something I look forward to.

But I am also excited to live. While I am still in this world I get to do something amazing and that is serve the Lord Jesus Christ, glorify Him, and be a part of seeing kids’ lives changed by His power.

I never understood how amazing and life-changing that could be. I know so many Christians who go to church, sing the songs, put their money in the offering plate, and even say an occasional amen. But when the music has been sung, the sermon has been preached, and when the service is over they return to their real life, which for so many is chasing the “American Dream.”

The Great Lie

Denise and I spent a lot of years “serving the Lord” in various ministries but at the same time we were trying to keep up with the Jones as well. We had lived so poorly for the first 15 years of our marriage that we wanted to finally live like everyone else, at least everyone else we knew in America. So we worked hard and finally had the nice house, the nice cars, good jobs, and nice things. I mean, this is what it’s all about right? Marriage wise, it was some of the worst times in our relationship. For some reason, we seemed to be struggling in other ways and it was one of the most unhappy times in our entire marriage. Actually, our worst year was the year we made the most money. We couldn’t figure it out and something just wasn’t adding up. I mean, the more you have the happier you are, right? We were just beginning to learn a valuable lesson: True happiness, inner joy, and real contentment absolutely cannot be bought, no matter how much money or things you have!

When It ALL Changed

We started seeking God and, to make a long story short, we surrendered to Him and His purpose for our lives. We had NO IDEA what was getting ready to happen. Denise lost her job, I lost my business, and eventually we lost our house. That led to us moving to LaCygne, Kansas where I pastored a small country church. THAT, in turn, led us to taking a seemingly benign mission trip to a small country in Central America. Within a year after taking that trip, we surrendered to the mission field. We sold everything we had and moved to Guatemala.

Stupid right? Well to many still chasing the “dream” I am sure it looked that way. But for us it was one of the most liberating things we had ever done AND when we were on the field serving God and working with our girls, those have become the happiest times of our lives. I know for me, I have never ever felt a greater depth of joy than I have ever known before and a deeper sense that I found what I was looking for all along. You see, the happiness that so many seek through material things and big bank accounts can only really be found when we give that all up. I don’t necessarily mean literally, although for some that might be exactly what God will ask, but I mean realizing that the mythical pot at the end of the rainbow will never be found. It isn’t until you let all of that go and realize that total surrender to the Lord and finding your purpose in Him is what really can give us what we are looking for.

 
 
And so it isn’t what people are going to say about me when I die. It is what they are going to think. It is going to be what was really true about my life that I care most about when people stand beside my casket. How did he live?
 
 
So when people are standing beside my casket, what are they going to think? What has always scared me is that some people might be able to think things like “He had so much potential” or “He could have done so much more for the Lord” or “If he had only sold out and gave his all to the Lord and not given up”. People thinking those things is what I fear the most. What I hope for, what I pray for and desire more than anything is for people to say things like “Man, that guy gave his life to serve the Lord and help others”, “He didn’t hold anything back in his commitment to the Lord”, and “That guy served God with all of his heart.” I want people to know that I was broken and spilled out in service to the Lord and I want people to know that I never surrendered to discouragement or defeat and that God used me to make an impact in other people’s lives for eternity. That is what I want… just to serve God and live for Him. My time is coming one day… and so is yours. What are people going to be thinking about you when your time has come?