Tommy Braun is an athletic high school young man who is very vibrant and active in his family, school and church environment. He was home one Saturday evening talking to his Grandfather Peter Braun when he said, “Grandpa, what are you doing?”
“I am preparing for my journey little Tom.”
“Please do not call me little Tom. When the other guys at school hear it they make fun of me.”
“Just because you are 6 feet tall and a basketball champ you are no longer ‘little Tommy’? No my dear boy you will always be little Tommy to your grandpa.” The old man giggled.
“Then I guess I shall no longer ask you to attend my basketball games. I always end up beating up one or two of my friends after the end of the game when you show up.”
Peter laughed boisterously, “you little monster. You always have that sweet gentle flare like your grandpa”
Tommy’s mother called him to help her take the suitcase to the car.
“Ma, are you going to be away for a long time?”
“No Tommy, this time I shall be gone only for three days…”
“Then why are you packing all this stuff in your luggage?”
She looked at him and smiled saying, “I am going to meet important people in this convention, and I should be presentable darling.”
Two months later, Tommy was helping his father John packing. He understood that his father was going to be away for six weeks on an assignment for his work. He spent three days preparing all the things he would need for his work as well as the essential items to live away from home for the duration of the project.
“You know Tommy; I always end up forgetting something. No matter how I prepare, each time I discover it too late when I arrive at my destination and look for it.”
“Well dad, maybe you should write a list or something…”
“Yeah…maybe…the problem is each assignment is different and what I need when I am going to New York is not the same as what I would need when I am going to South Africa.”
The final championship game was very exciting, and Tommy had his grandfather cheering him in the stands. The old man promised to call him Tommy and skip the “little” title for use only at home. After the game, Peter Braun drove his grandson to church.
“Why are we going to church now?”
“To prepare for the journey…and give thanks to the Lord for your victory.”
“Cannot we give thanks at home grandpa? I am expecting some friends to come by and we shall go to celebrate together.”
“All in a good time my child…all in a good time.” The grandfather said and left Tommy to say his Thanksgiving prayer. The young man knelt down and closed his eyes, “Dear Lord thank you for everything you give me and my family every day. And thank you especially for this wonderful victory of my team. Please forgive me for my objection to come to church because I am so anxious to spend some time with my friends.”
Two days later Tommy was thrilled to drive his friend’s motorcycle on the Turnpike on his way to the church retreat. He had great expectations for that event, as he was going to meet a renowned speaker who would also advise him on his future career and college options. While he was deep into his thoughts about these exciting prospects, a huge truck running parallel to him in the right lane, was cut off suddenly by a speeding reckless driver. The truck driver tried to stop his mammoth machine in vain. In the process the truck swerved violently into the vehicles to his left, including Tommy’s motorcycle. The young man was thrown a few feet up in the air, to land crashing into the concrete divider, while the bike was crushed under the wheels of the truck. Tommy was pronounced dead at the scene.
A couple of weeks later, a grieving Peter Braun was sitting in his usual seat in the church listening to the reader who was reciting a passage from St. Paul’s epistle “…I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far…” Peter closed his eyes as the image of the smiling face of his grandson appeared to block everything else in his mind. He suddenly felt weightless…all his pain disappeared. He opened his eyes to see that the world around him has changed completely…he was in a vast open space and seemed to be flying freely upward. There were many others at varying distances floating up like him. They were wearing white luminous suites which had different degrees of brightness. He whispered to himself, “Oh Lord, what a dream. This is beautiful. I don’t want to wake up…but I should not be sleeping in church during the service.” He then heard a very beloved voice and turned around to see his most beloved Tommy, “No…I cannot be seeing you…hearing you…that is far more than I deserve.”
“Welcome grandpa” A happy Tommy said cheerfully.
“Wait until I tell you Mom that I saw you and talked to you.”
“No, Grandpa, you don’t need to tell her…she is about to find out.”
“and this luminous suite you are wearing…this is fantastic…Oh Tommy I am so happy to see you”
“My suite is nothing to compare to the suite you are wearing grandpa…”
“My suite…? What do you mean?”
“The only suite brighter than yours belongs to that couple over there… they are martyrs …they have just arrive from a place on earth called Nigeria…we have martyrs arrive here almost every day.”
“Here …is the place you were preparing for, all your life…”
“No…Oh no…I am not ready yet for my journey…I have been preparing for my journey all these years and then I …Oh no”
“Dear grandpa…I was not ready either. Remember… I actually was in bad shape. Every day was filled with mistakes and excuses and look at me now…”
“Oh, Tommy I am afraid you are right… it seems like people can spend a whole week preparing for a three days trip and forget to prepare at all for their eternal journey… but how? How is this happening?”
“When I asked I was told… in spite of all my youthful foolishness, I loved my Lord with all my heart and I tried very hard to hold onto my faith in his promises to forgive me.”
“Oh my child that is a lot better than anything I ever did…”
“Of course not…you spent a life time preparing for your journey. I remember … every time I saw you writing a check for charity…I asked you and you said ‘I am preparing for my journey’ every time you went to visit those sick people I asked and you said the same thing. Your service in the church, your silent help for the neighbors and your constant prayers for others and me …you were preparing well for your journey. That is why your luminous suite is far brighter than mine.”
“Oh Tommy, when I was your age I made a lot more mistakes than you can ever imagine. It was like I was preparing for a journey to the other side… down there. but one day when I was twenty years old, I was in a party with some bad friends, and by the time we were about to leave in the wee hours of the night, I happened to look at the others around me and see how they were completely deranged, drunk and filthy. They started fighting with each other and when I tried to break it up, somehow they all turned around to beat on me. It was a beating that brought me back to my senses. If my journey were to end back then, things would be so different for me.”
“Thank God, for that would have changed my destination as well…”
“I wish we can find a way to comfort your parents Tommy. They must be really hurting now.”
“Oh but we can Grandpa, once we stand before the Lord, we can ask on their behalf for all the things that will make them happy and safe. There is no better way to help anyone.”
“How did you become so smart my child?”
“You taught me well grandpa.”
Eternity started yesterday… are you preparing for the journey?