You may have heard the story.
As a youngster, George had attended Sunday school, where he found Christ. He lived in a small cottage and hadn't much of this world's goods, but always he had a smile and a kind word for everyone. "What a beautiful day," he'd say. "How good God is." Or "Look at this rain, making everything grow. Isn't God good?"
George worked as a gardener on a large estate.
One day the owner of the estate was walking around his gardens when he thought he heard a voice. He stopped and listened. There it was again. "The richest man in the land," it said, "will die at five o'clock tomorrow." He listened carefully. It came again. "The richest man in the land will die at five o'clock tomorrow." He looked all around him. He searched the places nearby. There was no one there.
Where did the voice come from? Who was the richest man in the land? He thought about his properties, his companies, his bank accounts. Surely he was the man. But he didn't want to die. He wasn't ready to die.
He didn't sleep that night. The following day the minutes seemed to go by too slowly and too quickly, both at once. As five o'clock approached, he was sitting in his library with his head in his hands. He heard the clock whirring as it prepared to strike. It struck. One. . . two. . . three. . . four. . . five. The sound died away. A minute passed. Three minutes. Five minutes. He was still alive!
A feeling of relief flooded over him. He ordered a big meal. That night, he had an early night and slept like a log. When he woke up, the sun was shining and the air was fresh and clean. He went for a walk in his gardens. It was good to be alive.
As he returned, a thought occurred to him. He stopped a man working near the house. "Where's George?" he said. "I haven't seen George this morning." The man's mouth fell open. "Why sir, haven't you heard?" he said. "He's dead.
"He died last night. About five o'clock."