Rubies, pearls, emeralds, and the diamonds. Especially the diamonds. They had been her best friends in life, and she definitely wanted them with her in her death. She had given specific instructions that everything be buried with her. And when the wealthy woman died, the jewels were closed up in the casket with her, just as she had requested. Tragic that anyone would cling so tightly to things that will all be left behind when we leave this earth.
The Bible teaches us that those who trust Christ as their Saviour will awaken in Heaven at the very moment their soul leaves this earth. Every earthly possession will be left behind. There’ll be no expensive trinkets, no beloved smart phones, no family heirlooms, no fancy cars. You just can’t take it with you. We’re naked when we arrive here, and we’ll be naked when we leave.
But, there is this one thing. I’ve stood witness to a very surreal stage of life these past few weeks. As my family and I live in this acute awareness of the nearness of Heaven, I’ve seen some amazing things. Some of them are so tender that they can’t be explained, because in the attempt to attach words to the moments, the ethereal falls away.
But, I’ve seen something extraordinary taking place as my dad prepares to leave this life. People– from every stage of his life and from across the world– are lining the path he’s walking. And as he goes, each person is reaching out and handing him something. It’s their story. Of how he has influenced them. It’s an account of what his life has meant on this earth, written from every perspective. These are their gifts to him. And they’re tucking each one under his arm, into his pockets, and into his bags, which are now bursting at the seams and overflowing. He’s loaded down. Not burdened down, like with the load of regret and sorrow, but lavished with love and appreciation. And this kind of weight actually feels lighter the more it increases. It’s the abundance of cards and letters that keep pouring in each day– the emails and phone calls and texts that convey hearts-full of gratitude. The words spoken from the quivering lips of granddaughters, and the protective love of a grandson.
It’s amazing: the awareness that comes and the freedom people feel to speak their minds when given the advance notice of someone’s departure. But why are the words so hard to find on the normal Mondays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays of life? There are people within the reach of these words who may finish their journey in this life before my dad does, and it could be someone in your own life. You have gifts you need to give them that they can cherish in their heart while they’re here, and take with them when they leave. And even if they have a long way to go yet on their journey (and only God knows), you can load them down with love. And when Valentine’s Day has come and gone, you can still be lining the path of someone’s life, holding out your gifts, weighing them down with the outpouring of your love.
Say the important things. Give the gifts that matter. They can take it with them.