When he was sent to Korea the Air Force had regs on what he was required to bring, and what few things he could choose to bring. They defined most of what he packed, but there were a few things he could choose to take with him to the other side of the world. I wonder what he took.
Later on, when he was married to Gladys (he lucked out), and again he had to decide what to pack. Looking around his childhood bedroom, and thinking ahead to married life, what did he choose to take with him, and what did he leave for Al or Murray to fight over.
As a fireman, every time the bell rings, there is a decision of what to pack. Do you go in the ladder truck or water tanker, leave you helmet shield up or down, grab the axe or the hose?
And each day going to work, Boots had to decide what to pack and what to leave for his big commute all the way across the street – he’d throw a couple of coins in one pocket, keys in the other, always the John Deere cap on his head.
Finally, recently, when he moved into the nursing home, again there were the decisions of what to take and what to leave. He packed some clothing, some hygiene items, and a few precious family pictures to put up on the wall.
As we go through life there are numerous occasions when we need to decide what to pack. Yet at the end of our lives, all that changes. We’ve all heard the adages: “There are no trailer-hitches on the back of the hearse.” “You can’t take it with you.” When we get to heaven, what is important is not what we pack, but what we do not pack; what is important is not what we need, but what we do not need.
God gives a packing list to those who place their faith in Jesus.
We read in Isaiah [35:5-6], “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.”
And we read in Revelation [21:4], God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.”
God says we won’t need to bring our glasses, because there we will see clearly.
God says we won’t need to bring our pain meds, because there is no pain.
God says we won’t need to bring a box of tissues, because there is no crying.
God says we won’t need funeral suits, pall-bearer corsages, memorial envelopes, and funeral bulletins because in heaven death is finished forever.
Today, as you thank God for Boots, as you thank the Lord for all the memories and stories and experiences you still hold dear, remember to thank God that Boots no longer needs his glasses, or his meds, or his nurse, or his doctors, but because of his faith in Jesus, and Jesus’ faith in him, because of the forgiveness he received at the cross and the new life he received at the empty tomb, all those unfortunate things we need in this life are to him unnecessary.
We often hear that there is much we will need to leave behind when we leave this earth. That is true. But there is also much we get to leave behind. We can’t bring tears or pain or grief or death. We have to leave that behind. Poor us. Instead, we get to meet our maker in honesty and simplicity, just as we are. Praise the Lord for accepting Boots, and each of us, just as we are.