Do You Have Your Two Suitcases Packed?

Part of being older is that many friends are dying.

I could name fifteen close friends right now who are dying or have a disease that will probably cause their death. Last Saturday a memorial was held for a former classmate. This Saturday another is scheduled. This afternoon I’m visiting a friend in rehab who has congenital heart failure.

Since Ben Franklin reminded us that the two certainties of life are death and taxes, we better prepare for both–and especially the latter which lasts forever.

Today I am reprinting a story about preparing to die. My question:

Do you have your two suitcases packed?

Do You Have Your Two Suitcases Packed?

I had a friend named Sue who was dying of cancer. Unless God intervened in the natural course of this disease, she wouldn’t last more than two years. 

When I first heard of Sue’s predicament, my stomach went into knots. I called her husband, Dan, to ask about Sue.

Dan and I had a good chat, catching up on past years and then delving into the realities of Sue’s illness. When I asked him how Sue was handling her cancer prognosis, he said some words that have not left me since that personal conversation.

He said, “She’s got two bags packed. She’s ready to live for God, and she’s ready to die for God.”

Two bags packed. What a wise way to live.

In the weeks following our conversation, I pondered those words. I’m convinced that as believers in Christ, we must rise to Sue’s faith level if we are to model God’s Good News before a watching world.

We can’t live life with a half deck. We need to be truly ready to live and ready to die. That’s means two suitcases. Most of us only have one—if that.

Suitcase One – Prepared for Life

Many of put belongings in this suitcase. In fact, the older we get, the bigger this suitcase becomes as we acquire homes, cars, overflowing garages, children, grandchildren, and all the blessings that accompany our time on earth. 

For some,  this suitcase is a little messy as we ebb and flow with the circumstances that come our way—some blessed and others tragic. But we’re packed for the long haul and continue to fill our case with what we need for the journey.

If we’re smart, this bag will contain God’s Word—the Bible—at the center of its contents. We read God’s Book to seek His direction for our lives and follow Him as He leads us. We follow his ministry call or vocation. We marry when He brings that “special one” into our lives, and have children during this shared adventure.

It’s quite an exciting trip.

If we’re really prepared for the life ride, we organize our bag with many crucial items. These include daily quiet times with our Creator, diligent work in our field of calling, little wasted time on empty entertainment, and great companionship with many fellow travelers.

We also stow away all the necessities for an abundant life: discipline, good habits, godly stewardship of resources, high goals and Christ-like character. In short, we rejoice in a full life of loving God and serving people.

Of course, many people don’t pack this bag very carefully. They leave out the Bible and don’t follow God’s instructions. They form faulty life habits can cause them to lose many things out of their dilapidated carpetbag.

They put drugs, weed, booze, and other junk in the bag. This makes the suitcase reek and gets them in trouble when they go through border crossings. In fact, sometimes the crud in the suitcase causes their life to explode—and they end up in jail or on the street with an empty paper sack.

It’s important to prepare your life bag, the earlier the better. You only get one chance, so it needs to be packed wisely and carefully.

But then there’s the second suitcase that most people never get off the shelf.

Suitcase Two – Prepared for Death

I don’t think many people pack this bag carefully. Followers of Jesus do better because they know where they’re going, but oftentimes they don’t think much about this destination called “death” until the last minute. That’s not good planning.

I knew a family with a wife/mother who was dying—and they felt she would be cured. They went to healing meetings, didn’t talk about the possibility of death, and basically refused to pack this bag. When death came, the father and children even stood around the dead body of their beloved and cried out for resurrection.

It didn’t happen. This lack of preparation for death left a wound in their faith, a hole in their heart, and damaged their relationship with God for years. They had not packed the second bag and were totally devastated when the train arrived.

It’s not wrong to pray for healing. It’s not wrong to have faith. But it is wrong to presume that healing will always come simply because we desire it. The ways of God in sickness and death are far more complex than operating a spiritual slot machine that’s programmed to our requests.

Due to the uncertainty of this realm, I believe we should ask for healing in faith and prepare to die in faith. Sometimes the greater testimony is found in the latter.

Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ showed many how to pack the second suitcase. Bill lived an exemplary life for Jesus with his first bag running over with good fruits.

At the age of eighty, he came down with fibrosis of the lung. He and his wife, Vonette, prayed for healing, but also talked about his graduation into glory. He churned out final books, wrote mentoring letters to young leaders and basically shouted during his final days on earth, “I’ve showed you how to live for Jesus, and now I’m showing you how to die for him.”

Bill’s second suitcase was packed and overflowing. He talked about seeing Jesus and many loved ones. He smiled about breathing his last breath. Loren Cunningham, YWAM’s founder, is doing the same thing right now as he faces stage four lung cancer. 

That’s the way I want to go. I want to look into the eyes of loved ones and say, “Follow me joyously in life then follow me joyously in death.” You can do that when your bag’s ready.

Yet modern people don’t seem to prepare. We’ve got only one bag packed, and even that one’s a little sparse.

We need to think deeply about the second suitcase. We’re all going to die. Are you ready? This was the secret of the Early Church. They were prepared to live and prepared to die.

Are you?

Get out your two suitcases and start to diligently pack them. Fill your life case to the full and don’t waste a minute. Pack it to the brim with all the right things and don’t look back. The train of life speeds up after every stop. You don’t want to miss an opportunity. 

But also fill up your death case. If you know Jesus, the best day of your life is the day you die. Having your bag full of a prepared heart, ready mind, and grateful spirit will brighten the “shadow of death” before you.

Don’t worry. There’s amazing light on the other side. There’s nothing to fear. God is your conductor. This is the fastest train to true happiness–if you believe.

Do you have your two suitcases packed?


  1. james v Nardo on June 22, 2023 at 7:27 am

    God will be the source of the WAVE. When I spent many hours waiting for the next surf
    wave, I sat there patiently bobbing on my board not knowing the if or when a decent wave
    was coming. My surfer buddy told me that on the east coast, surfers waited for the storms
    to come that brought the bigger waves and would go out into them!
    Right now I see the biggest manifestation of the enemy is division and chaos which to
    me means that many have had their fill of it, wanting to return to sanity like being caught in
    a riptide. It will be interesting to see how the one directional wave will change things just
    like the wake of a large vessel does and can make the water smoother.
    For such a time as this, here we are, and I know I don’t have a lot of time left on my
    body clock; for such a time as this, here we are! In the book of Estrogen(Esther) the tide turned drastically by obedient actions, fasting and prayer. God will lead His people to

  2. Jay on June 19, 2023 at 1:58 pm

    What a great article, thanks much for sharing it with us. Wise words to prepare for life and also for the day we die.

    Years ago I received some similar advice, it was from a Christian oncologist, who helped people with cancer diagnosis to prepare for death by living their best life. He used the example of a runner and how champions will come to the final lap, the “bell lap” and step things up and make that lap the best lap. That is the lap they put all their training and conditioning to work and with both physical and mental effort they put all they have left into that last lap.The Dr shared how, in Christ, we do not need to fear death.

    In his sharing I remembered Heb 12:1-2 we are to run with endurance the race that is set before us. We begin by realizing that there is a heavenly cloud of witnesses surrounding us and encouraging us, that we need to lay aside every weight and sin, and finally look to Jesus – the author and finisher of our faith. He is our forerunner, the one whose example we follow.
    The last lap is when we do our best, when we do the things that we know we need to do, and not just put them off. To rise up in the strength and grace of God and let that final lap be what so many can remember you for – not for wining a race for a price, but for living a full life fro Christ, and leaving a legacy for many to follow.

    • Ron Boehme on June 21, 2023 at 11:50 am

      Nice to hear form you, Jay. I like the “bell” lap idea. We may be weaker at that point in body, but may God help us strengthen our spirit to cross the finish line with great faith.


  3. Bobbi Bailey on June 15, 2023 at 4:17 pm

    We were serving with CC for C when dear Bill Bright entered heaven. He touched millions of lives and continues to today through the Jesus Film
    I loved how he showed us how to die
    Thank you Ron for your wise insight

    • Ron Boehme on June 21, 2023 at 11:52 am

      Hi, Bobbi. Nice to hear form you.

      I got to know both Bill and Vonette in the 1980s and beyond. I’m grateful for their exemplary lives.

      Now, our YWAM founder, Loren Cunningham, is going through the same. May we follow these great leaders through the power of the Holy Spirit.


  4. Lisa on June 14, 2023 at 7:50 pm

    Amen! Beautifully written and solid advice. Having both suitcase’s packed is truly resting in God’s sovereignty and trusting. The peace that passes understanding. We can live joyfully here and be ready for what’s next without fear. My prayer is that more Christians can cultivate a relationship with the Lord that provides this peace and not simply box checking familiar routines- what a shining light for the world to witness and learn from! I just may borrow the two suitcases story!
    Thank you for sharing this story and it’s importance.

    • Ron Boehme on June 21, 2023 at 11:55 am

      Please use the suitcase story, Lisa, ,with those you counsel (including my mom this week!). I learned it from an Assembly of God pastor in Lacey, WA. Most truth is passed on from others though we shape it a little with our own talents.

      Yes, it’s all about resting in the loving sovereignty of God. He is the One we can ETERNALLY trust.


  5. John Briggs on June 14, 2023 at 7:44 pm

    Very timely article for my family and our circumstances. Thank you, Ron, for the reminder to pack with intention! I intend to see Jesus when He’s ready to call me home. Until then, let’s continue to run the race (in reality, the walk) in His direction, encouraging others along the way.

    • Ron Boehme on June 21, 2023 at 11:57 am

      It’s always nice to hear from you, John. You’re one of my heroes.

      I have an autobiography coming out in Augusts called “One Small Life.” Please send me your mailing address and I’ll sure you guys get a copy.

      Let’s carry on for Jesus until our dying breath an promotion to glory..


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