Ruby stretched out full length on the couch and let out a sigh of contented coziness. She opened the book she was in the middle of and eagerly began to read. About halfway through the chapter, she looked up when Amber came into the room. Amber was carrying her tiny turquoise paisley clipboard, a packet of stationery, and a gel pen.
“Going to write a letter?” Ruby asked.
“Yes. I owe Carol and need to thank her for the bookmark she sent.”
Ruby felt a tug of guilt and uneasiness. She remembered once again the letter that she had needed to answer for a few months. Her friend Grace had sent a long letter, which Jasper jokingly referred to as an epistle. She had also sent a sheet of stickers and a pressed penny from her family vacation. Ruby had kept intending to answer the letter, but she knew it would take some time to write a long enough one.
Closing her book, laying it on the back of the couch, she stood up and stretched. “I guess I might as well join you and answer Grace’s epistle.”
Ruby headed for her bedroom and returned carrying her box of stationery. She plunked it down in the middle of the couch and sat down beside it.
Amber had turned on classical guitar music and was humming along as she wrote. Flipping through cards, stationery, and envelopes, Ruby tried to decide which stationary she should use. Delicately fingering a sheet with embossed plum-colored lilacs, she deliberated.
“Should I use this, or save it for something else? I only have a few pieces,” she mumbled to herself.
She pulled out two sheets of delicate paper and a matching envelope, then took the rest of that beautiful pack of stationary and laid it on the end table, just in case she were to need another sheet. Placing the lid on the box, she tucked her legs under herself, laid the paper on the lid, and picked up a purple gel pen.
For the greater part of the next hour, both girls wrote. The guitar music strummed a lively melody followed by a few gentle songs. Amber finished her letter and placed it in the envelope. She went to go practice her flute, leaving Ruby alone in the living room.
Finally, Ruby signed her name with a flourish and laid down her pen. She stretched out her fingers to release the cramped muscles in her hand.
“Why do I always put off letter writing for so long?” she wondered. “Once I get started, it’s a lot of fun.” She shook her head at herself, knowing that she would probably do the same thing again next time. Then she sealed the envelope and put it with Amber’s envelope in the letter holder by the door.
“I’m glad I went ahead and used that stationery,” she thought. “I think Grace will like it, and it’s nice that I can share it with her.”
She was just going to put away the rest of her stationary when her mom’s voice came from the kitchen. “Ruby, were you still planning to make muffins for tomorrow’s breakfast?”
“Oh, yes I was. Thanks for the reminder.” She headed straight to the kitchen to whip up a batch of blueberry crumb muffins.
* * * * *
After she finished her flute practice, Amber came into the kitchen in search of Ruby.
“Want to go for a walk, Ruby?”
Ruby looked at the clock. “I’d love to, but I need to finish up these muffins first.”
“Okay. How about I take the letters to the mailbox now, and that way when you’re done we can walk back to the field and look for flowers?”
“Sounds good.” Ruby sprinkled blueberries on top of the batter and gently folded them in with a wooden spoon.
Amber went away humming,” What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” which was the piece she was currently learning on her flute. She grabbed the letters out of the wooden letter holder with carved flowers on it and headed out the door.
As she neared the end of the driveway, Amber saw the postal vehicle coming up the road. “They’re late,” she thought. “Good. That means our letters can go out today.”
Back in the kitchen, Amber told Ruby the good news and sprinkled the streusel on top of the muffin cups that Ruby filled with batter. With the last muffin tin in the oven and the dishes all loaded into the dishwasher, the girls were ready for their walk.
“Oh no! Quick, get a towel.” Jasper’s panicked voice came from the living room. Ruby grabbed a tea towel and dashed into the living room. Sweet iced tea was running over the surface of the end table and streaming down the side to the floor. A glass lying on its side on the floor told the sad tale.
In the middle of the brown liquid lay the rest of Ruby’s prized stationery and a few other stationery pads she had looked through.
Ruby rushed over and helped to soak up the tea, sending Amber for another towel, since there was clearly more than her small tea towel could absorb. They cleaned up the mess, but there was nothing that could be done for the poor stationery.
“I’m so sorry.” Jasper looked at her with his mouth drawn into a straight line. “I was just picking up my book off the end table, and my arm knocked over my glass of tea. Is it all ruined?”
Ruby stared down at the soggy mass. “I’m afraid so. If we tried to peel them apart, they would tear, and once they’re dry they’ll be all stuck together.”
“Besides, they would be brown,” Amber said gloomily.
“I’m so sorry,” Jasper repeated. “I can buy you some more.”
Ruby forced a smile onto her face. “It’s alright, Jasper. I know you didn’t do it on purpose. I have a lot more stationary still in the box.”
After a few more minutes, Ruby and Amber went on their walk. There wasn’t any use in staying there and looking at the ruined stationary. Amber spoke cheerfully, pointing out the pretty clouds and talking about the warm sunshine. Ruby, knowing that Amber was trying to cheer her up, joined in the conversation.
They went to the field behind the house and picked two bouquets of Blue-eyed Grass and Sweet Williams. On the way back to the house, Amber brought up the incident that was still on their minds.
“At least you sent that pretty stationery to Grace.”
“Why do you say that?”
Amber reached down and picked a tiny purple violet. “Because. If you hadn’t sent it, all of it would have been ruined. This way Grace gets to enjoy it, and you can enjoy thinking about those pages being safe.”
Ruby nodded. “That’s just like the sermon on Sunday.”
Now it was Amber’s turn to wonder what she meant.
“Don’t you remember?” Ruby watched a mockingbird, hopping along the ground. “It was about laying up treasures in Heaven where they will be safe. If we try to store them up here on earth, then they won’t last. Treasure stored in Heaven is what lasts.”
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Amber smiled at the comparison that really made a lot of sense. “Right! Just like it was a sacrifice for you to send that pretty stationery instead of keeping it to admire, it’s sometimes hard for us to do the right thing and lay up treasure in Heaven.”
“But, someday we’ll be glad we did, just like I’m glad today that I shared with Grace,” Ruby finished.
The two girls carried their bouquets into the house and picked out little vases to arrange them in. They put one vase on the kitchen table. Ruby carried the other one into the living room. Jasper was in there reading a book about World War 2. He looked up when Ruby came in.
“Have a good walk?” He still looked uneasy, and Ruby knew that the accident was still on his mind.
“Yes, I did!” She put the bouquet of flowers on the end table beside Jasper and sat down beside him. “Amber and I thought of something that I think you would like to hear.”
Jasper laid his book down, and Ruby smiled. She knew that Jasper would feel better after she told him what they had thought of. It hadn’t been the happiest day of her life, but at the same time, she really did feel happy. The stationary wouldn’t have lasted permanently anyway, and the lesson that God had given her would stay with her for a long time.
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What are some ways that we can lay up treasure in Heaven where it will be safe forever? Have you ever experienced a loss like Ruby did?
Until next time, lay up treasures in Heaven!