Once upon a time there was a man who had a number of troubles and difficulties that happened to him.  But first remember that he had always been a healthy man and was somewhat indifferent about others who had problems and sickness.  “A lot of those things that people say are wrong with them are simply imaginations,” he would say–to himself of course–for he did not want others to know what he was thinking.  Or he might think, “If these people were being better, then bad things wouldn’t happen to them.”

Then one day he too became sick.  “This is not my imagination,” he thought, “for there are sores that have appeared on my body.  What have I done wrong to make this happen?”  He said this because he believed that when someone gets sick there must be some bad reason for it.

So he began to think of all the reasons why he might be sick.  He thought first of all of the things he had done wrong to his wife.  “I should have helped her with the children when she wasn’t feeling well last week.”  That was the first thing that came to his mind.  Actually, he didn’t help his wife or children very much at all so that could not have been the reason or he would have been sick all of the time.

Next he thought about God and church.  “I knew that I should have gone to church more often, because that might have helped me a great deal and I probably not be sick now.”  The man seemed to think that he could store up good points by going to church and this would offset any trouble that might then come along.  Actually, he didn’t go to church much at all, not even at Easter and Christmas, which surely would have been good for him.  “But I think about God a lot and sometimes I pray to him,” he reasoned, “Surely God knows that and will protect me.

After a few days the man started to feel well again.  “Boy, I am glad that is over,” he thought.  “I’m going to help my wife and children more and I will go to church at least twice each month.”

So he started to help his wife.  He washed the dishes, bathed the baby, took out the trash and was often in the way of his wife as she went about her housework.  She began to worry about him, thinking perhaps that his mind was not quite right.  In the same manner, he began to go to church twice a month, even taking the occasional note about the sermon.  The pastor too became worried.  “Mr. Crank, (for that was what everyone called him) seems to be taking notes about what I say.  I’ll bet he is catching my grammatical mistakes and is going to make fun of me sometime.”  So the pastor also wondered if the man was showing signs of some mental illness.

About two months later the man became sick again.  Now he was really puzzled and concerned.  “Here I am, helping my wife and going to church, and I am sick again.  What is wrong?”  Then he thought about his money, because he was somewhat rich.  “I give $100 a year to the church and we put out clothes and things regularly for the Salvation Army on their collection days, what more can I do?”  So he began to give more money to the church and put out some better clothes for the Salvation Army, thinking this would help his sickness to go away.  And sure enough, after another week or two, he felt quite well again.

Now I am sorry to tell you this, but six months later the poor man, who was actually quite rich, got sick again.  Only this time he became very sick, so sick that he was taken to the hospital.  Doctors and nurses came to see him and he was given all kinds of drugs and medicines.  A couple of times he promised God that if he got better he would help God out in all kinds of ways.  “I will take my children for walks, my wife to the shopping mall, have our pastor over for a meal, and donate 150 dollars to the foreign mission society.  There are lots of things that I will do if I only get better again.”

Well, I am even sorrier to tell you, he did not get better.  In fact he died and went straight to heaven.  And in heaven he was told that he would have to spend a certain amount of eons (they don’t talk about “time” there) in the “Promise Makers” mansion.

The Promise Makers Mansion is an enormous celestial building, taking up the better space of four stars, but it was filling up fast.  Mr. Crank was lucky (if you believe in luck in heaven) that he could get in at all.  But he felt immediately at home.  He met people who were just like him: they would have done all sorts of good things if they had gotten better, they had whole careers laid out before them, multitudes of people they were going to help, millions of dollars that they wished to donate, if only they had not gotten sick and died.

That seems to be what it is like in that part of heaven where the Promise Makers live.  They still think about all of the good things that they couldn’t complete and sometimes they almost feel sorry about it.  But they are in heaven and there is no sorrow there, just the occasional look downward at other Promise Makers.

Now why am I telling you this story?  The next time you get sick I don’t want you to make a lot of foolish promises.  Just carry on like you always have, complaining about your sickness, blaming your family or your company for your misfortune, praying to God to give you another chance.  But be careful about promises, or you too could end up in the Promise Makers Mansion.  It’s just a small space journey from the Promised Keepers Mansion.  Right now the Promise Makers Mansion is a lot fuller than the Promise Keepers Mansion.  But there are plenty of stars for expansion.