Small People, Great Rewards


It’s been a little while since I posted, but found this story and wanted to share it with you. Be blessed and be a blessing!

Once upon a time, in a strange and lovely place where some people
go once they’ve been rid of everything flesh, an elderly woman
approached a young man hunched over a huge and rather grand book.

She noticed, first of all, that there was a timeless quality
about the man’s beauty–for, though of the male persuasion, he
was, indeed, quite beautiful beyond anything she had seen before
or since. He also was ignoring her, and even when she approached
so close as to cast a shadow over his work (though in the
brilliance of where she was, shadows of any kind were not at all
allowed), the beautiful man remained intent on his work, his
long, artfully shaped nose just inches from the printed page.

“Hello?” She ventured timidly. “Hello. Uh, they sent me here.”
Receiving no response, she tried again. “Is this the right
place?”

“That depends,” the beautiful man said without bothering to look
up.

Gaining confidence, the woman explained, “They said, ‘See the one
at the table–with the book. Malaki.’ Are you Malaki?”

Without changing his stooped posture one little bit, the young
man glanced up at the woman and permitted a trace of a smile to
toy with the corners of his pursed lips. “In person,” he declared
with every measure of importance at his disposal.

“I don’t get it,” the woman said, scratching her head through
what was left of her thinning hair. “Wasn’t the last guy named
Malaki?” She screwed her face into the shape of a question mark
as she struggled to gain foothold in an understanding of this
strange and magical place.

“Oh, we’re all named Malaki,” Malaki said. “It’s generic–like
pharaoh, or Kleenex.”

His explanation brought her no closer to understanding, and deep
in the pit of her stomach the woman felt an old and dreaded
twinge of homesickness–that queasy sensation of being somewhere
she didn’t belong, set adrift from a place she would rather be.
With a long and wearied sigh she said, “Look, I’m trying to find
somebody, and they told me you could help.”

Malaki drew himself up to his full height–a height that towered
over the elderly woman. He inhaled deeply, as if filling his
lungs with every bit of importance his office bestowed on him. “I
am the Keeper of the Book of Life. In this book,” he ran his
large hands lovingly over the cream-colored pages before him,
“are the names of every person who has given his heart and soul
to Jesus Christ.” With that declaration, Malaki leaned forward,
his face close to the woman’s, expecting her to be thoroughly and
breathtakingly impressed.

“Here’s the thing,” she began, dismissing his grandiloquence
with a shrug, “my husband died twenty years ago. He was a
disciple of Jesus, but not a very important one. Nobody ever knew
anything about him; he didn’t make any of the written accounts.
So I don’t know if he would even be in your book.”

“Oh my,” answered Malaki quickly, “in that case I can guarantee
he is in the book. But, ahem,” he sniffed, “are you?”

“I did resist for a long time,” she confessed. “But just before I
died, I believed in Jesus and gave Him my life.”

“Just under the wire, huh?” Malaki smirked.

“Now I’m looking for my husband–for old time’s sake–you know how
it is.” She winked.

Malaki glanced back down at his work, embarrassed. “Well,
actually, I don’t.”

The woman leaned over the small, ornate desk. There was urgency
in her voice when she said, “Could you tell me where he is? His
name is James son of–“

Suddenly Malaki’s countenance lit up, and for the first time a
broad grin spread across his face, making it even more beautiful
than before. “You don’t mean the James? Son of Alphaeus? You’re
kidding!”

“You mean you know him?”

“Know Him! Why, he’s one of our leading citizens! Everybody
knows James son of Alphaeus.”

The woman found this difficult to believe. Her husband had been a
good man, but thoroughly and irrefutably ordinary. There were
times on market day that she had struggled in vain to locate
James–only to be later informed that he had been right there in
front of her. Her good husband had been glaringly unremarkable.
Surely Malaki was thinking of someone else. “Wait a minute,” she
said, “short guy, dark curly hair.”

Nodding, Malaki said, “Sure. I even know which page he’s on.” He
quickly flipped backward through the book with his delicate
fingers, stopping on one of the first pages of the huge volume.
With an expansive gesture, Malaki pointed his long, slender index
finger to one entry near the top of the page.

The woman leaned over the table. “Five stars?” She gasped.

“Our highest rating,” Malaki said, his face beaming with pride.

“But, he was just another guy. Very ordinary.”

“Precisely!”

She was now utterly confused. “If that’s the case, how do the
real biggies live up here? Guys like Moses, Peter, John.”

Malaki shrugged. “Just about like everyone else.”

“I can’t figure this.”

“Well, it’s not really part of my job description,” he sniffed,
“but I’ll try to explain as best I can. There are no favorites in
heaven, you see. God loves all who take their residence here.
However, the Father does have a rewards system.”

“Rewards?”

“No one can buy their way into heaven. But God’s children are
apportioned talents and what they accomplish with those talents
in His name is remembered by the Father. He rewards the diligent
works of everyone belonging to Him.”

“Then, as I said,” the woman sputtered, “the apostle Peter must
have the finest accommodations.”

“No, not necessarily.” Malaki leaned back into the simple yet
elegant chair that sat behind his table. “Peter received so many
rewards while on earth: he was a respected leader; a writer,
whose teachings will live on till the very end of time. But the
Father has a soft spot in His heart for the servant who receives
no glory during his earthly life. He has a very special love for
those who keep plugging away even when no one notices their
labors.” He looked at the elderly woman standing at the other
side of the table. “Tell me, what did James do while he was ‘down
there’?”

“Oh,” she sighed, “he was kind of forgotten. He always ended up
doing the jobs no one else would. Taking out the trash. Sweeping
the church floor. Visiting with the beggars.”

“And he didn’t receive much thanks for his work, did he?”

“Of course not!” The woman said with some anger as she recalled
the disappointing anonymity in which her husband served. “No one
paid him any mind. Nobody even knew anything about it.”

“But he kept on, didn’t he,” Malaki said patiently. “He kept on
with it, never shirking from even the most menial task.”

The woman shrugged, “Someone had to do it.”

“So James didn’t receive much glory while he was on earth?”

“Glory?” She sputtered. “They forgot he was even around!”

Malaki rose and leaned toward the distraught woman. With all of
his persuasive power he reassured her. “God didn’t. He didn’t
forget. And now James has been paid in full. He now has all the
glory that others received while they were on earth. The
difference is, their glory came from men. James’ glory is from
the Father–in person.”

Calming, the woman now realized that she was in a place
remarkably dissimilar to earth–a place where a different set of
rules and consequences were in place. Smiling, she said, “It
sounds as if my husband has finally made a name for himself.”

“Oh, he made his name on earth. Now he is reaping the reward.”

“But please,” she said insistently, “tell me: Where is James?”

“Well now, it would be my pleasure to take you there myself,” he
said, closing the book. “His palace isn’t far. Besides, I’d like
to be there when he receives his finest reward.”

“What’s that?”

“Why, you, of course!” Malaki grinned and took her by the arm.
“Twenty years ago he didn’t know if he’d ever see you again. And
now he will–for eternity.”

And the two–one ancient and one newly young again–moved deeper
into the brilliance of a place where there is no time, no sorrow
or pain. A place where there is only a joyful convocation of
those gathered around the throne–a throne surrounded by the
blinding glitter of earth-earned crowns happily offered in praise
to the One who never forgets the work of His beloved.

“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” – Matthew 16:26-27

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