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Among all the labors of mankind, nothing seems to say, "I am no longer a spring chicken," quite like that of heading to the lawyer's office to update one's last will and testament. We start life young and carefree, proceed into the exciting yet tumultuous teen years, make it into our young adult life, marry, have children and fill out our first will with a cavalier "it doesn't really matter what is in this puppy, I am going to live forever anyway" attitude.

And then the weirdest thing happens; your kids somehow end up almost as old as you were when you got married. And, though I know this will come as a "shock," they start to make sarcastic quips about nursing homes for you.

And then the wife (somehow it is almost always the wife) says, "By the way, I made us an appointment to update our will." That, of all of this, pains me the most. How could she, of all people, doubt my invincibility? I mean, other than the recent tear in my calf while trying to play basketball, my fall from the tree last year while cutting a high branch and my kayaking of our river while it was at flood stage the summer before that, how could she imagine that an update to the will could ever be a necessary thing?

My three children, though, clearly know of this appointment. I know this because they have all been particularly sweet to me recently. If I did not have a good memory of their facetious yet sarcastic comments in the not too distant past about prune juice and home health care, I would almost be tempted to believe their flattery about my strength and wisdom and regal bearing.

Making out or updating a will is never as easy as it sounds. Mind you, if this were Old Testament times, we would simply give the firstborn man child a double portion and then split the rest up as between the youngers. But since Paul made it clear in Romans 6:14-15 that we are under grace, not law, we have leeway to arrange wills in this dispensation as we see fit. And as most any parent knows, daughters are a bit more likely to tend to aging parents, while sons are probably going to send a periodic (as in, bimonthly or so) text saying, "S'up? Y'all good? K!" so there is definitely that to consider.

How to divide things — that is the question, isn't it? House, F-150 (definitely not going to the man-child; he is one of those obstinate Chevy guys, somehow) books (easy call, only the eldest daughter is interested in those) guns (these will have to be specified in detail, or there will be a mad scrum between all of them) and my incomparable collection of hot sauces. How does one go about being fair and kind while simultaneously buttering up whichever child or children is likely to produce grandchildren and bring them over for regular visits?

I do want them all to be well taken care of in the ultra-extremely-unlikely event of my demise. What good parent wouldn't? My wife and I have raised them and tended to their every need all of their lives; we certainly want to do so as much as is possible, even beyond our earthly lives.

And that is why, I suppose, we have actually been giving them their real inheritance all along the way. Psalm 16:5 says, "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot." Since they were very young, we have been giving them this inheritance day by day — and it is already paying dividends for them even while their parents are still living.

My mother began giving me this inheritance a very long time ago. Without getting into a long, drawn-out story for which there is not room in this column, there were times when I was just a little boy that she and I would walk to church, several miles away. We read the Bible together; she prayed with me; she prayed over me. Through her efforts, I came to know Christ as my personal Lord and Savior at just 9 years of age and have never regretted it for a moment.

My own three children have some very precious things through the inheritance that my mother gave to me and Dana's parents gave to her. They have all come to know Christ as well, so heaven and eternal life are certainly part of that. But they also have things like an understanding of the fact that there is such a thing as absolute truth and a knowledge of where to find it. They have individual, personal prayer lives; they do not need pope, pastor, priest or even parent to get through to God for them. They have lives that are thus far not scarred by sin, though neither they nor we (nor anyone else) are perfect.

They have years of memories of us gathering together each night as a family to discuss everyone's day, take prayer requests and then talk to God together as the last thing we do before going to bed. They have innumerable answers to questions that they have asked, answers that have come from a mom or dad opening the Bible to the appropriate verse and saying, "Here is your answer to that question."

Our last name is not Hilton or Rothschild or Trump. Thus, our last will and testament will only take three or four pages (unless I list the hot sauces individually) for us to bequeath everything we own to our children, not 300 or 400 pages. But the real inheritance that we were given and have been daily giving to them, the spiritual inheritance that is worth more than gold, would take a library to contain.

And I hope they take that into account when eventually deciding between Shady Acres and Kudzu Court.

Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at wordof hismouth.com. Email him at 2knowhim @cbc-web.org.

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Pastor Bo Wagner
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