The Brown Suitcases
Two weary travelers limped the final steps to their destination. Each one appeared before the throne carrying a brown leather suitcase. The handle had broken on one suitcase, and on the other both hinges hung, barely suspended. The brown leather had faded on both, and in some spots had worn off entirely.
The King looked at the two pilgrims and noted the wounds on their hands and faces … the bandages, crutches … His heart melted. The wayfarers used their last ounce of strength to hoist the suitcases up to the dais.
“Welcome home,” smiled the King. The travelers nearly wept with relief.
He placed His hands on their shoulders and said, “Let’s unpack what you’ve brought, shall we? John, why don‘t you go first.”
With shaking hands, John unclasped his suitcase and flung back the lid. His eyes gleamed with pride at all he’d brought for his Master. He picked up what he considered his finest gift and said, “Look, Lord, this box contains every kind and noble deed I did while traveling through the shadowlands. I think you are really going to like this one!”
The Lord lifted the lid off the small box and saw everything from helping out at the homeless shelter to sending money for disaster relief. The King raised the box and looked underneath it. A frown shadowed His face as He said, “This gift has your name on it, John, not mine. Why is that?”
John’s eyes shifted slightly. “Well, Lord, that is because I was the one who did those things.”
“Ah, I see,” said the King. “What else do you have in there?”
John rummaged around in the old brown suitcase and pulled out another treasure.
“Here’s one I’m especially fond of, Lord. You know how I always wanted to publish a children’s book? Well, here it is. I actually won the Newberry Award!” he beamed.
The Lord looked at the cover of the book, flipped through its pages, and read the bio on the back flap, along with John’s picture.
“Hmm, nice book, but where is my name, John?”
John squirmed and said rather defensively, “It got the Newberry Award, Lord.”
“Huh,” the Master said, tossing the book back into the suitcase.
The Lord examined each of the items in the suitcase, looking for any trace of His name. He lingered on one gift, then closed the lid and pushed the piece of luggage back toward John.
“We’ll deal with this later, John,” He said, then smiled at the other traveler. “Alright, Ann, your turn.”
With downcast eyes, Ann opened the lid to her brown and battered suitcase and gently placed her treasures at His feet. Each gift was beautifully inscribed: righteousness, joy, love, kindness, gentleness, peace, good works, godliness, perseverance, God’s Word, generosity, faith and eternal life.
“This is all I brought, Lord,” whispered Ann. “Thank you for such wonderful gifts for my journey. I did not deserve them, I did not earn them. You have been so gracious to me, so … “ But Ann could not continue. She clung to the feet of her Lord, the Lover of her soul, and sobbed her gratitude.
The King placed one hand on Ann’s head and used His other hand to turn over each item in the suitcase. Emblazoned underneath each one was the name of His beloved Son, Jesus. He encircled her in His loving embrace.
“Close your suitcase, Ann, and carry it with you beyond those gates. You have chosen well.”
The Master then turned toward the other pilgrim.
“John, there is one gift in your suitcase that will gain you entrance into my kingdom. Long ago you turned to Me for salvation, and I graciously adopted you as my son. Therefore, that is the one gift you will carry into eternity.” He opened John’s suitcase and handed him the box labeled, “Eternal Life Through Jesus Christ.”
“I’m sorry, John. That is ALL you will carry with you into eternity. The rest is wood, hay and straw.”
John leapt back as his suitcase went up in a blaze of fire.
Both travelers stepped into a glorious kingdom. John entered with his one gift - wondrous and undeserved. But Ann … ahh, Ann nearly ran through the gates, joyously carrying her worn brown suitcase heavy with eternal treasures. She glanced up at the gateway’s banner, and the words thrilled her heart:
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
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