In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Believe it or not there was a time when the kids were young and so was I. A time when we sat on the porch laughing and cuttin’ up and enjoying our life. One of those times we decided the old red oak in the back yard needed a tree house. With two young boys and the prettiest little tomboy God ever created, we climbed in the truck and headed for one of those local home improvement stores.
I was pushing a lumber cart and the kids were enjoying the ride. My middle son was singing and voicing the non-stop chat he was known for when from, I don’t know where, he said, “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
Now we have all heard that quote from time to time. I have a question for you. Have you ever stopped and taken the time to think what that may mean? I mean, really think about it, what does that statement say to you? I never took that time until an elderly gentleman heard my son say the quote. He stopped us, looked at my son, and with a smile on his face he said, “No son, that’s not the question. The real question is which way do the pearly gates swing?”
My son looked at me. We smiled at the gentleman and he turned and walked away.
We discussed this question while we were picking out supplies for the tree house. At first we decided that the pearly gates swung in and out. As we pushed along we decided, again, that the gates must swing back and forth. Now in the South, ya gotta get it right or you’re just plain wrong. The kids began to playfully argue over which was right when we bumped into the old gentleman, a second time, at the register.
“Did you come up with an answer?” He asked.
“Well not exactly,” replied my son, and explained the answers we had discussed.
The gentleman paid for his items, and looked into our eyes. His warm friendly gaze seemed to overtake us as he said, “You have it all wrong. It doesn’t matter if they swing in and out, or even if they swing back and forth. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if they are pearls and solid gold, or made of old barn wood. What matters is upon your arrival if they open or shut.”
He turned to walk away and the kids looked at me a little overwhelmed. That third possibility had completely escaped us.
As the day went on the kids helped build the tree house and played other games. I put the encounter aside until recently when a death in the family brought it to surface. As I began to think about the lesson the old gentleman taught me I realized he taught my children as well. I discovered that he must be right in that what really matters is when we get to those gates someday—will they be open or shut? It’s a sobering thought once you contemplate your life.
My Papaw used to say we shouldn’t worry about what others do or don’t do—only what we do. Either way if we don’t get it straight with the good Lord before we get there we will trip over it trying to get in. While we walk our individual road in this life we still must question our arrival at the pearly gates. Open or shut is determined by our relationship with others, and with our God. As the gentleman taught us that day, if we make others aware of the future and teach our children to live a righteous life before God, we will discover, together, the gates will be open, not shut, upon our arrival.
And that, my friends, is a promise from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.