When I read this touching story, it immediately reminded me of how often we lose touch with others who may have done much more for us than they think. They may not have thought it was all that important to remind us of what it meant to them to be a part of our lives. I guess, they just didn’t want to look like they were begging us to praise them for being some kind of hero to us. I hope this story impacts you the way it did me.

Jack answered his ringing phone, it was his mother on the other end. “I just wanted to call and tell you Mr. Belser died last night, she said. The funeral is on Wednesday.” Memories flashed through Jack’s mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days. “Jack, did you hear me?” his mother asked. “Oh! I’m sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you, Jack. Every time I saw him, he’d ask how you were doing. He’d think back to the many days you spent over on “his side of the fence,” as he put it, Mom told Jack. “I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said. “You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” his Mom reminded him. “Yes,” said Jack, “He’s the one who taught me carpentry, and I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important. Thanks, Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral, Jack said. As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had already passed away.

After the funeral, the night before he returned home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap back through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture…. Jack stopped suddenly… “What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked. “The box is gone! Jack exclaimed. “What box?” Mom asked. “There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was “the thing I value most,” Jack said. Now it was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it. “Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I’d better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read. Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small package was old-looking, as though it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. “Mr. Harold Belser” it read. Jack took the package out to his car and ripped it open. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he picked up the note and read what was inside.

Jack’s voice began to tremble as he read the note: “Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved: “Jack, Thanks for your time! – Harold Belser.”

Now Jack finally understood, the thing Mr. Belser valued most was the time he spent with Jack. Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his assistant asked. “I need some time to spend with my son,” he said. “Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!”

Just like Jack, some people forget that over two-thousand years ago, their greatest friend and hero died. They don’t visit the place where he was buried in because it’s too far away. They don’t read all the letters He sent them by way of his close friends Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But in those letters, He made it clear, that being able to spend time with them was the whole reason He came, and died, and rose again to go and prepare a place where they could be with Him for eternity.

But before He departed, He left this message: “I was born for a purpose. I came to bring truth to the world. All who love the truth are my followers.[1]  Not only that, but He also said: “The greatest love a person can show is to die for a friend. You are my friend if you do what I tell you to do. I no longer call you servant, because a servant doesn’t know what their master is doing. But now I call you my friend.”[2] And by the way, He also left you a memento. He said He was giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my children.[3]

P.S. Don’t be sad that you didn’t make it to His funeral. Three days after He died, His Father brought Him back to everlasting life, and it is that everlasting life He wants so desperately to share with you. Why? Because He loves it when you spend your time with Him. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] John 18:37

[2] Ibid. 15:13-15a

[3] Ibid. 13:34-35

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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