The Envelope

BY PAUL DUNK

A father dies and leaves an inheritance to his two children, Jane and Grace. The family member handling the estate gives them each a letter containing the cheques for their inheritance.

Jane takes the envelope and puts it in her pocket without opening it. Grace opens it immediately and finds herself in utter shock as she looks at amount written on the cheque.

The two siblings hail a cab to go to the bank to claim their inheritance. They get stuck in an agonizing traffic jam. A truck has overturned and is blocking the highway. They are sitting on the highway with the engine off for three hours as emergency crews attempt to clear the wreckage. Jane sits in disgust, outrage and gets angrier with each passing minute. Grace keeps opening the envelope, marveling at the implications of her inheritance and passes the time by singing.

They estimate that they could just get out of the cab and walk the remaining  10 kilometers in about two hours, so they pay the driver and proceed on foot.

As they are walking, it begins to rain and they find themselves cold, uncomfortable and entirely unprepared for the weather. The wind begins to blow through them and before long, they find themselves with colds. They both become incredibly frustrated and angry. Jane curses the circumstances, thinking about everything else she needed to do that day and starts to get overwhelmed with anxiety. Grace pulls the cheque from her pocket, peeks at her inheritance, and after a while, she finds herself humming as she walks in the cold rain.

They come upon a homeless youth asking for money. Jane, annoyed that someone so young would “give up on life”  instead of getting a part-time job, walks by, pretending not to notice them. Grace reaches for some change, but realizes that all she has is a $20 bill. As she looks at it, she suddenly remembers the figure written on the inheritance cheque and though she had no intention of giving that much, she gives the youth the $20 anyway.

A few kilometers later, they can’t help but see this young woman crying openly on the stoop of an apartment. Jane walks past quickly. She figures that he isn’t a trained counselor, has her own problems and doesn’t need to import anyone else’s stress into her already stressful life. It’s been a long day, she’s cold, sick and she just wants this day to end. Grace stops to ask the woman what’s wrong. Jane sees this and out of guilt, goes back to hear what this woman has to say.

It turned out that there was a domestic dispute and the woman was locked out. Jane rolled her eyes and whispered, ‘Let’s go. We can’t really help here.’ Grace, reached in her pocket, opened the envelope and looked at their inheritance again. Grace offered to pay for the woman to stay at a hotel for the night until she could try and work things out with her family the next day. The hotel was two kilometers back.

Jane was outraged at the inconvenience but didn’t want to look insensitive, so she reluctantly agreed. They walked the woman back two kilometers and paid the front desk for her to stay.

When Jane and Grace finally arrived at the bank, it was closed. Jane went into a fit of rage, voicing her regret for stopping to help people along the way. They would receive their inheritance, but not today. Grace opened her envelope again, and as a smile grew on their face, she began to look for someplace nice to eat.

We have an inheritance in the gospel. Suffering always provokes nearsightedness.

God’s grace anchors us to our immovable hope in suffering: Christ alone and the eternal life we are promised, because we are united to Him.

God’s grace rescues us from the nearsightedness of suffering.

This is why God gives us His gracious 4th commandment and calls us weekly into His rest. Worship is a weekly invitation for our families to gather and open our envelopes. To marvel at His grace and then go out refreshed and empowered to live outward facing lives in light of our inheritance.

The Gospel stretches our vision all the way back to what Christ accomplished on HIs cross and casts our vision all the way forward to the inheritance that is coming with His return, which is total restoration.

The gospel is not, “hang on until heaven, then you’ll have joy.” The gospel provides joy now.

In our trails.
In our pain.
In life.

The gospel is not just the good news that serves as the entrance into Christian faith. It is also the power by which we live it out. The apostle Paul called the good news of the gospel the ‘power of God’ in Romans 1:16

How is it that good news is ‘power’?
News is power because it changes us.

Think about it. You can receive a phone call in the morning and receive news that effects you that will quite literally affect how we live out the rest of that day – or your life. News is powerful because it is something that happened outside you, apart from you – but it affects you.

We gather for one reason: to remember the gospel and open our envelopes. Remembering what Christ has done and the eternal implications of what Christ has done will change how we walk through the trials and the pain that comes with living in a world broken by sin.

When we open the envelope, we are reminded that every good thing will be restored and every sorrowful thing will be removed. To borrow from CS Lewis, “every sad thing will become untrue.”

Paul is a graduate of Knox Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of KW Redeemer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.  He is an MCO race school graduate, but presently his main hobby is drinking espresso because it's cheaper than fixing cars. Paul and Susan live in Waterloo with their three children.
Twitter @PaulDunk