It was 2007. I got a very agitated phone call from my aunt. She said she needed to talk to me. I knew her but not very well. I knew she was a very intelligent lady, a divorced woman with a daughter. I knew her relationship with her daughter was “strained.” That was about it. What would this woman want from me?
Turns out she had determined that I was about the only relative she had who could help her with her last wishes. I soon found out that she was estranged from all her kinfolk, except my Dad, who was in such ill health that he was not capable of helping her. She asked me to be her power of attorney and she wanted me to be the executor of her estate.
She was prepared for the end of her life. She had extensive plans for everything, from the details of the funeral service to the dispersion of her possessions. She knew exactly how she wanted everything done and even though her planning was helpful, I could tell that all her requests were going to be complex and extremely time-consuming. It was truly going to be a lot of work.
But I said I would do it. I pledged to help her.
In Billy Graham’s book The Holy Spirit, he has written about how we are justified when we are born again. He has written about how we are baptized into the body of Christ. He has written about how He takes up residence in our heart immediately.
Now he says the Holy Spirit seals or pledges that we will have an inheritance at the time God redeems us. We are in God’s possession. In Ephesians 1:13 Paul states “At the moment of conversion, however, believers are sealed with the Spirit for the day of redemption: ‘Having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.’”
You might think, what is the big deal? The big deal is that if we are born again, then we are secure in our salvation. The big deal is that we are owned by God [He wants us because we have declared that we want Him]. He is not going to let us go. Nothing can touch you, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” [Romans 8: 38-39].
Graham comments that “as we trust in Christ, God gives us the Spirit not only as a seal… He is also our pledge.” “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” [2 Corinthians 1: 21-22]. In the First Century in the Middle East, a pledge meant three things: it was a down payment that sealed a bargain, it represented an obligation for intent of purchase and it was a sample of what was to come.
The Holy Spirit seals and pledges us. God pledges to redeem us completely and the Holy Spirit living in us gives us a “foretaste” of our coming life and inheritance. “He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a pledge” [2 Corinthians 5:5]. “[The Holy Spirit] is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” [Ephesians 1:14]. We all need assurance. It helps us so much as we navigate through life. Assurance helps us with peace and faith. When my aunt asked me to help her carry out her last wishes, I had lots of help from people who knew her, but at times it felt like I was doing work that no one else cared about; no one else except her and me. But what she wanted to happen was important, and I was acting on her behalf.
As I look back on all the things that she asked me to do, I am glad that I discharged her wishes as well as I did. There were so many roadblocks along the way but I persevered and tried as much as I could to do the right thing in all circumstances. That is what I told her I would do. I told her I would help her when she was alive and I told her I would help her when she passed away. As I think back on this episode in my life, maybe it really relates to God’s seal and pledge.
I gave her my word, my seal and pledge.
What did she get for that?
It is my prayer that she got needed assurance.