“What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36

Richard stood in the doorway and surveyed the room.   Two tables divided the room.  The one to the left bare, except for a single, simply wrapped gift.  The table to the right overflowed with food, gifts, and the laughter of his friends.  He wondered who had arranged the room for a party like this, but he shrugged and quickly stepped over to the right to join his friends in the revelry.

Richard and his friends laughed, ate, and opened gifts.  Occasionally another person would enter the doorway and glance at both tables.  Just like Richard they quickly dismissed the lone gift on the otherwise bare table and quickly joined the others at the table on the right.   The partiers opened gifts and consumed  food as if there would be no end of supplies.  But, before long the table on the right was emptier than the table on the left with its lone gift.  The newly empty table was now surrounded by tired people and a big mess no one wanted to clean up.  Exhaustion overcame the partiers and they crashed on the floor sound asleep.

Richard awoke and saw a man enter the room and sit down at the table across from them.  The man looked sadly over at the sleeping group of people.  Then noticing Richards half-open eyes, his face lit up and he stood, picked up the one lone gift on the table and held it out to Richard.  The simply wrapped gift, which had previously  seemed so unattractive, lured him to open it.  Richard stood up, shook his head to clear the fog and stretched his aching back.  He carefully stepped over sleeping bodies and found himself standing in front of the man with the gift.

Richard looked back at his sleeping friends.  He felt so unworthy to open the gift the man was offering him, he was no different than everyone on the other side of the room.  Why should he open the last gift?  The man reached out and touched Richards shoulder, drawing his attention back to the gift he still offered.  Richard reached out his hand and took the gift.  He wondered at the power of this gift as his eyes clouded over with tears.  He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and then removed the simple wrapper from the gift and opened the box.  Light shone forth from the inside of the box and illuminated the half of the room he stood on.  He felt as if a million hugs had been released from the box  enveloping him in arms of eternal happiness.  Looking inside the box Richard saw more gifts.  He reached in and set them on the table. They came in all shapes and sizes and the more he took out of the box the more there were.   After filling the entire table with gifts, he stopped and looked over at his still sleeping friends.  He remembered how they had selfishly wasted their time and gifts.

He wanted to share his new gifts with them.  He picked up as many gifts as he could carry  and headed into the darkness.  He shook the first person he came to and the man sleepily opened his eyes.  Richard excitedly shared the story of the simple gift on the other table and showed him the gifts he had brought to share.  The man had his back to the table and remained unimpressed with the plainly wrapped gifts that Richard held.  He closed his eyes and went back to sleep.  Richard received the same reaction from most of the sleeping people.  When he went back to the table only a few followed him into the light.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23