A message on heaven and hair, regret and forgiveness, yesterday and eternity by Pastor Dave Gipson
In heaven, there’s a file cabinet with your name on it. No, this is not mentioned specifically in Scripture, but I’m pretty certain of it none the less. I imagine mine as an old style wooden cabinet with squeaky rolling drawers, made of oak. All furniture in heaven should be oak, I think.
There is a light peaking through the window near it, illuminating the dust particles dancing through the air around it. This is an attic room of heaven, where things are stored away for future reference. This cabinet has been waiting for the day of your arrival, tucked away for safe keeping. Only you are allowed to open it, and now upon your arrival here it’s time for you to do so.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re afraid. Any file cabinet in heaven with your name on it has got to have some pretty awful stuff in it, right?
What do you think would be there? Lists of sins, from your earliest years? Every casual word you tossed off to slight someone? Perhaps some photos from your teenage days. How about your tax returns, or ledgers revealing how you spent your money and how much you gave to the church?
Now you’re really sweating. You know you absolutely must do this – it is the task of everyone who enters the halls of this eternal home. But there’s so much you’ve tried to forget. Old age brought the sweet benefit of erasing some painful memories from your thoughts. Now to relive all those mistakes, all those wrong turns into the cul-de-sacs of life – it seems quite an excruciating, torturous task. But it is your task and mine, and no one else can do it for us.
Plastic sandwich bags bulge from file folder after file folder. I nudge one open, but still can’t see down into it. Finally, I pull the file folder out of the cabinet and open it. Extricating the plastic bag, I’m astounded to find hair clippings. There’s a label on the bag, reading “David – first haircut”.
It’s blond hair. I’d completely forgotten my baby hair was blond, before it turned later to brown…and eventually gray. Now I’m flipping through folder after folder of plastic sandwich bags, each with hair from every period of my life. Someone has carefully kept a sample of each phase, every change.
It’s as if a father had lovingly placed samples from every period of my life. When I get to the end of the files, it strikes me as odd that even my gray hairs have been kept. So this father somehow managed to find me adorable even into my latter years, seeing that phase just as precious as the first.
The next drawer below catches my attention, and I pull it open to see what’s inside. This one is filled with papers. There are cards, letters, and small scraps with writing on them. Every birthday card I ever received, every thank you note is collected inside. Another folder is filled with Father’s Day cards, and another with anniversary cards from my spouse. I’d thought they were all lost forever! Tears fill my eyes as I pour through all the loving things written to me by my children, wife and friends.
But then I notice the folders containing nothing but scraps of paper. At first I think they’re pages put through a paper shredder, but as I pull one out I notice there’s tiny Helvetica typing on each strip. In quotes, I read, “I would never have made it without your help. God truly brought you my way,” and then the name of the person who’d said that to me so many years ago. Every kind thing anyone had ever said to me…or about me…is carefully typed on a single strip of paper.
Some of them I remember immediately, but some catch me by complete surprise, causing me to gasp with discovery. I never realized a kind word I said made any difference to that person. I never knew how much I meant to them. Some scraps are made up of thoughts from that person’s mind, so I had never heard them before. They were going to end their life that night I spoke to them, but God used my feeble words to revive their hope and courage. The drawer is filled with scrap after scrap of these quoted blessings.
I’m now sitting on the floor, tears rolling down my face. I’m wondering when I’ll even have time to go through all these folders. But I’m reminded I have an eternity now to remember all the beautiful things I’d forgotten, thanks to someone taking the time to collect every single one of them. Things I’d have never remembered or known, kept safe for me to see upon my homecoming.
Now that I’m on the floor, I notice the bottom drawer. I pull the handle, wondering what else could be kept there. When it opens, there’s a great amount of dust in the drawer. It’s as if things have been left unattended here for quite some time. Each file contains the heading, “Sins – David Gipson,” and then a month and year next to it. Each page has typing in the same Helvetica as before, but I cannot make out the words clearly.
In fact, each page is impossible to read because each is stained beyond repair. Every single page has a large brown stain covering all the words. The stains are darker in the middle, but as they trail to the edges you can tell the stain’s original color seemed to be a deep shade of red. Suddenly it hits me – these are blood stains.
Even stranger than that, on each file folder there’s a stamp reading, “Cancelled. April 14th, 1977”. Why would they all say that? What was so special about that day?
Then I remember. That was the day I asked God into my life. It was the day I embraced the cross of Christ and His sacrifice for my sins. And on that day, the blood of Jesus had completely covered over every one of them. The pages would never be legible again.
Amazingly, even the sins I’d committed after that date were still marked with a cancellation date of 1977. It’s as if even sins committed after that date had already been blotted out in advance.
As I sit there in a stunned amazement, I sense a presence in the room and feel a hand on my shoulder. Looking up, I see Jesus smiling down at me. He says, “How’s it going, Dave? Find anything interesting?” Then a mischievous grin spreads across His face. I think He even chuckles a bit.
“You’ve done this? You’ve saved all these things and kept them waiting for me until today. I never thought…”
“…that I cared that much?”, Jesus interrupts. “Oh yes, David. My Father and I have been so looking forward to this day. You have no idea. And the fun’s only just begun!”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Well, of course we’ve got a big reunion planned for you and all your friends. The party’s just getting started, so we’d better hurry. But I wanted you to see these things first so you’d understand when all these people come up to you. There’s a lot of folks who are pretty excited you’re here now, and can’t wait to tell you some of the things you’ve read in person. So how about hopping up off the floor, and let’s get started!”
“Get started doing what?
Now the grin widens into a smile so bright, it illuminates the entire room. “Making a whole new cabinet full of memories, that’s what…”
Your turn will be soon, my friend. Your file cabinet is waiting in heaven’s attic. So make sure you are filling those top two drawers to overflowing!
Check out Pastor Dave Gipson’s message on the power of the right attitude, and the truth of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5
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Pastor Dave’s new sermon series starts this Sunday@Legacy. Stop by and GET HAPPY!
Join us at Legacy Church of Naples for Pastor Dave Gipson’s new sermon series on find true happiness in life. Judy probably won’t make it, but happiness will be all over the place!