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Old-suitcase

I am quite sure you have heard the old saying, “you can’t take it with you”, most have – but can you? Can you take anything with you as you leave this cruel world? Of course, we all know when it comes to stuff like money or other such earthly luxuries, no, those kinds of things you can safely leave where they are and rest assured your heirs will dispense with them as they see fit. If it isn’t your 401K in their bank accounts, then they will either sell, frame, or box up and store away your personal effects in the attic where they will collect dust and at some point down the road be passed along to their heirs who will surely follow suit, whatever, totally their choice; and of course, whatever can’t be used or converted to cash will probably end up on the shelves of your local Goodwill Store.

What will it matter anyway? You’re in the ground, six feet down or in an urn perhaps. Oh boy! An urn – that sounds a bit better doesn’t it? Your ashes in a nicely decorated box or vase sitting atop the fireplace in one of your kid’s home. Won’t that be grand? What used to be you, now an ornate conversation piece. Oh well, that’s better than being a bookend I suppose. At least, somebody will think about you now and then over drinks.

But wait; my-my-my, I’m getting ahead of myself here. I meant to ask earlier, do you by chance have an extra bag lying around the house? An overnight bag, something like a carry-on piece of luggage you’d board an airplane with? Why do I ask? Well, before you check out of this drudgery of a thing we call life, there are a few items you may want to consider tucking away for the hereafter – in your “Hereafter Bag”, will call it? You do believe in a hereafter don’t you? I mean, like, hey there! This is a Christian blog site you’re reading, and I do consider myself (though far from being the best) a Christian writer; so it should be reasonable to assume this is going somewhere Christian – please don’t hit delete just yet though – hang with me a couple of minutes and read on.

Believe it or not, there are some things you will be able to take with you on your departure from the land of the living and you might want to be sure they are securely in place before you go.

According to scripture everyone will stand in judgment, and what, or, who, you approach the bench with will be the determining factor in an irreversible, no appeals granted decision reached by the judge; and let me slip in this little piece of advice, it’s extremely important – you don’t want to represent yourself. But, if you should choose to give the wheel a spin and press your luck (I love them old game shows) that’s where you’ll need what you can take along when you kick the bucket.

So then, if you’d like to grab your bible from off the shelf, or, from that place where you stored it away last Easter Sunday; open it up to Revelation 20:12 (a damp cloth will help to settle the dust and prevent sneezing). In the New King James Bible the text reads like this:

“And I saw the dead (that’s you), small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

Bam! There it is, the one thing you will be able to take with you – your “works”, the things you have done while amongst the living. A quick list might include those hours spent as a hospital volunteer; the checks written to the church or a deserving charity; the nickels, dimes and quarters placed in those bright red kettles just outside the door when you went to Wal-Mart during the holidays; your humanitarian efforts and philanthropic activities, or just those self-flattering, egotistical times when you were a “Good Old Joe”. Those, and other such things are what you will have and need when the curtain falls, but only if you depart without having committed your life to Jesus. Why? Because then, you will be on your own, fully awake standing in the supreme court of the universe before the Chief Justice of the universe.

Watch this now; Approaching the bench, you may think yourself a Racehorse Haynes, or, a Johnny Cochran (rest his soul), but the judges decision won’t be based on how skilled you are at oratory or how cleverly you might weave a defense, but only on what is in your Hereafter Bag, and you may want to make clear note of the fact that this Judge plays by the rules, adhering to the strict and rigid letter of Constitutional Law (The Bible); no loopholes, no ambiguities, no gaps, no wiggle room nowhere; no sidebars either; your entire case is in the bag (no pun intended). But there may be a problem; you see when the final draft of the Constitution (The Bible) was drawn up and ratified, it read clearly,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).

So then, when your name comes up on the docket, you will be allowed to present your argument along with the content of your bag (your evidentiary exhibits) for the judge’s determination of admissibility, but he will look for one thing and one thing only – the gift, the gift of God you just read. All other articles will be overruled, and found inadmissible.

What, or, who is the gift referred to? Scripture confirms the gift to be Jesus; an act of God’s grace giving up his son for all (Romans 8:32). It is whom James speaks to when he writes, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV); the “heavenly gift” of Hebrews 6:4, Jesus identifying himself as being that gift when he said to the Samaritan woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10 NIV).

What’s in your wallet (kidding)? Better said, not what, but, who are you carrying with you in your Hereafter Bag? If Jesus, then take heart. No matter how dark your life on earth may heave been, praise God, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1) who has promised; and you can rest secure “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).