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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Checkout (06/09/11)

TITLE: Checkout to Check In
By Jackie Smithwick


I was standing in the checkout line.

“I hope I have enough cash,” I thought.

After checking all through my purse I couldn’t find the last few pennies needed to buy the cereal and milk in my basket.

“Surely I have enough.” I thought, as panicky again I started searching through the bottom of my bag only to pull out pens, papers, and dust.

I gave a huge sigh, dropped my arms on top of the crumpled bag and gave up.

“This is so embarrassing.” I thought, “Sure times are tough, but it’s just cereal and milk. My debit card is overdrawn and there is no where to turn.”

Tears clouded my vision as I looked at the milk and cereal and tried to choose which to take home to my children. Just as the first tear began to roll down my cheek, a sweet young man from behind stepped forward and offered to pay the difference. I thanked him profusely, and cried as I walked to my car.


I was standing in the check in line.

“I hope I have enough good deeds in my account to pay my way in,” I thought.

I began naming things I had done. “ Let’s see, I gave to the poor, visited my sick uncle in the hospital, carried old clothes to the mission and of course, went to church on Easter and Christmas.”

I was sure I had done enough good to gain entrance to this beautiful place, but the attendant stood glaring at me as if I were not even talking.

I continued naming more and more of my good deeds right down to the contribution I gave in church last Easter. The more I proclaimed my offerings of goodness, the more the attendant glared at me with no response.

Finally she spoke, “I’m sorry, you cannot enter.”

So what was I to do? I took a step back to take a second inventory of what I could offer in my defense. Then someone from behind me stepped forward to give his good deed list. He uttered a few short words that I couldn’t make out. I was shocked and confused, when he walked gleefully through the glowing gates.

I stepped back into the line, and asked the attendant, “Here I have this long list of good deeds, but this person only said one thing and you let him in, what is going on?”

The attendant said. “The person behind you had someone else pay for his entrance.”

“Who?” I asked. “Will He pay it for me?”

The attendant said softly, “Do you remember the church invitation when your heart was pounding? Do you remember knowing that you should step forward and accept Christ as savior? Do you remember refusing to move because you didn’t want to be embarrassed? That was when He was offering you the free gift that would gain your entrance here.”

Seemingly from nowhere came a strong figure of a man wearing a long white robe. I looked at him and asked, “Are you the one who can pay my entrance to paradise?”

A voice like I had never heard before spoke directly into my soul and said, “Depart, I never knew you.”

Like a bolt I sat straight up in bed. Hot tears wet my flushed face. “No, no, I shouted.”

Falling to the side of my bed I prayed, “Lord Jesus please forgive me for turning you away those years ago in church. I know I am a sinner and ask that you forgive me. I love you and want to make you the Lord of my life.”

There were no fireworks, and the ground did'nt shake. However, the peace that passes all understanding came to live within me.

My finances are still very tight, but my security lies in my Lord and Savior. I know He will guide me through to that faithful day I stand in the checkout line of life and enter the check in line to heaven.

The free gift of eternal life is mine and my entrance to heaven is Jesus Christ!
(Ephesians 2:8-9)

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This article has been read 256 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Nancy Bucca06/16/11
This is a good one. I actually started writing an article about this very topic, but ran out of time to finish. I'm glad you tackled the subject of eternity. Thanks.
Helen Curtis06/17/11
This is very powerful. Well done.
Phee Paradise 06/19/11
I love the way you wrote two parallel stories and I was very happy that the narrator wasn't shut out of heaven. But do you think it would have been more powerful to leave out the last four paragraphs? I think you had already given the message.
Jan Ackerson 06/20/11
I really like the comparison between the real-world checkout situation and the heavenly one.

I strongly suggest that writers avoid the "it was all a dream" scenario. It has been done to the point of becoming a writing cliche, and there are fresher ways to deal with resolving conflict.

This story shows that you are a writer with great promise.

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/23/11
This is a great story with a wonderful message.

I could feel my heart pounding. I wish it hadn't ended in a dream as many see that as an easy ending. Perhaps the good Samaritan could have told her that story or she could have found it in her mom's journals. Just a thought or two to avoid the dream cliche'.

However Jesus definitely does talk to us in dreams when we are quiet and more likely to hear him, so it still is an outstanding story that had me hanging onto every word.

Congratulations for placing 9th in level one!