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I Hate Packing

by Tim O'Hearn

An aunt of mine was recently preparing to go to California for a few weeks. In frustration at the preparations she made the comment, “At least we don’t have to pack to go to heaven.” Those of us who have frequently had to move understand the pain in her voice. But we can also understand the joy there, too. For she was right. We don’t have to pack to go to heaven.

First of all, what could we pack? They say you can’t take it with you. What is there of earth, other than beloved people, we could take with us? We won’t even take our bodies as they are.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Cor 15:42-44, 49-50)

We would not want to take anything that causes pain or frustration in this life; and what is there that doesn’t? Money? If we don’t have enough we are frustrated. If we have too much we put locks on the door, “afraid somebody gonna rob us blind when we’re out a-makin’ more.” (Ira Gershwin, Porgy and Bess) Prestige? That can be, as many learn to their regret, a relative and fleeting thing. I knew a man who for many years was the mayor of my hometown. He did not try to become governor, congressman, or senator. “Better to be a big frog in a small pond than a small frog in a big pond.” When we get to heaven we will be in God’s pond, and to him “be glory for ever. Amen.” (Rom 11:36) Things? What is more frustrating than things? As soon as you get it, somebody has a newer, better one. And what you have is sure to break down. (Yes, all you Mac users, even your computers can malfunction.) At some point your will be stranded on the highway (or the information superhighway) of life if you thing things are worth taking.

How would we decide what to pack? Many the person has had the dilemma of trying to pack for Chicago in the spring. Do you take warm clothes, or light? Will it be cold, or warm, or both? What from this earth are you going to need in heaven? How do you know? What can you pack for a place you have never been and cannot begin to imagine?

The great thing about heaven is that you don’t need to bring anything with you, even if you could. Like Orphan Annie when she first visits Daddy Warbucks, you don’t need anything because your host will provide anything you need. Haven’t you ever dreamed of going somewhere, and just buying what you need when you get there? Since we will be going to spend eternity with the one who owns everything in the first place, we can just let him “buy” what we need when we get there. “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof.” (Ps 50:10-12)

If there is anything that you will need in heaven, you don’t need to pack it anyway. Instead send it ahead by a spiritual UPS. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt 6:20-21) The only treasures you can take to heaven are those that you can send ahead.

No, we don’t have to pack to go to heaven. One suitcase wouldn’t be enough anyway; or a planeload of suitcases. We would have to pack for eternity. (And I suspect we won’t have to do the laundry while there, either.)