April 28, 2013

Popular writer Chuck Swindoll in his book entitled “Living Above the Level of Mediocrity” tells us an interesting story about his close friend in the ministry who traveled across America for a week of meetings. But there was only one problem.

He arrived at the airport of his destination but his bags did not. They went on to Berlin.

I know the frustration of not having your bags and your things with you because this was what happened to me and a couple of my friends back in New York. We arrived at La Guardia Airport but our bags decided to land at New Arc. It’s hard sleeping in your latest ring-spun denim jeans no matter how soft they are and we were told that the bags will have to arrive the next morning.

To make matters worst, this minister was scheduled to give a talk in the morning and so he really needed a couple of suits. So he went down to the local thrift shop and was pleased to find a row of suits. When he told the guy, “I’d like to get a couple of suits.” The salesman smiled and said, “Good, we’ve got several. But you need to know they came from the local mortuary. They’ve all been cleaned and pressed, but they were used on stiffs. Not a thing wrong with them but I just didn’t want to bother you.” “Stiffs” of course is another term for dead bodies.

The minister said, “No, that’s fine. That’s okay.” The suits he needed were there, besides they are cheap. Nobody would have noticed that they were once used on dead bodies down at the mortuary anyway. So he hurriedly tried some on and bought a couple for about $25.00 a piece. Great deal!

When he got back to his room, he began to dress up for the evening’s meeting. As he put one on, to his surprise there were no pockets. Both sides were sewed up! Though surprised, he thought, “Why of course! Stiffs can’t carry stuffs with them when they depart.”

The suits looked as if they had pockets but they were just flaps on the coat. All week long, this minister tried to stick his hands in his pockets but couldn’t find them. He had to hang his keys on his belt.

What a lesson to remember. Not only for the minister but for every one of us. Stiffs can’t bring stuffs with them. The old saying that you can’t bring anything with you to the grave is once more given a fresh new twist and story. I guess the minister must have been inspired after being reminded of this thought and he probably preached all the better for that thought.

A couple of years ago, a couple of my Korean missionary friends got involved in a terrible car accident. His young son together with 2 others died. At the funeral, I can’t help but once more be reminded that each one of us has his or her own appointment with God. Some leave earlier than we do, some are given the privilege to live many years on this earth.

But one thing I noticed though that coffins always come in the same size and shape. I haven’t seen one with an extended compartment so that accumulated things can be brought by the departed.

I don’t know. This always is a sobering thought.

You know what? Stephen Covey is right. He says in one of his 7 habits that it would be good to begin with the end in mind. To imagine ourselves in our own funerals. What would we like to hear people say about us? Well Covey did not invent that idea because the bible said it a long time ago.

The Psalmist says “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Yes, we need to think about this every now and then so as to be reminded that we are but dust.

Therefore, I would not be interested in bringing with me things that would not fit in my coffin. Would you? When all life is gone and my Spirit shall be with My Maker, then there’s absolutely no need to put pockets on my coat too.


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