“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” – Jesus Christ
Comforting words to hear especially when we are feeling overwhelmed. My Mom used to quote this verse from John often. I didn’t fully appreciate her wisdom in reciting it, however, I was young and naive. I thought the world revolved around me and whatever I had planned. The thought of dying really never entered my thought much. Or at least not as much as my Mom. Sure, Jesus was building a room, or mansion, as some Bible versions quote, but that was SOMEDAY, not right now, not today. There was so much life I had in front of me. It was a good verse for older people, but not anything to think about in my teens, or twenties, or even thirties, really. Just a thought for a someday when I would be facing down a terrible disease, or walking side by side with someone who was. Someday.
But, today is part of a whole year in which the entire planet has been facing down a terrible disease. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, everyone has had to come to terms with Covid-19. And even though it is almost Christmas and we all are getting ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth, facing the future still worries us, if we are honest.
So many people have been affected by this virus, either personally or through a neighbor of friend, that we can no longer pretend that it does not exist. I’ll be honest, I have seen so much divisiveness over how to contain the virus, that it has been the most frightening thing, instead of the virus itself. We really do need to come together and fight the virus and not each other. That being said, I want to have a candid conversation with you, right now, as we are all thinking of the sweet baby in the manger, singing our Christmas carols, baking our cookies and other Christmas treats, attending church, sending gifts, etc. Have you thought about dying? I mean, if we really think about it, that is what Christmas is ultimately about. Jesus came down from heaven to be with us, be one of us, but then take our sins upon Himself, so that He could return to heaven and get a place ready for us.
That is the Good news of the Gospel. Yet, if we are honest we all have this measure of fear about getting sick and dying. It’s scary, because we just aren’t sure what happens, maybe a little, but not completely. And honestly, no one likes being sick and suffering. Or at least I can’t think of anyone who does. We find comfort from Jesus’ words, that He is preparing a place for us. He wants us to be there, in Heaven with Him and our loved ones who have died before us. And He made it fair for everybody, not only those who have lived a perfect life or donated the most money or were nice to everyone. But, just that He would take on our sentence, and we would be acquitted, if we would ask Him to apply His payment on our behalf. It’s like racking up a credit card and having someone offering to pay it off for you, you just need to say okay.
I realize that is an oversimplification, but I think it puts the free gift of salvation in an easy to understand way. I do realize that we need to understand that we have debt, that we have fallen short of what God intended for man in the beginning, and have sinned against a holy God, which has separated us from Him, but we also must realize just how accessible God’s gift of salvation is for mankind.We did nothing to deserve it. It is all based upon God’s love for us, not getting extra credit on anything we have done.
There is so much anxiety these days and it is very easy to let ourselves get worried and let our hearts get troubled. We fear the worst, instead of hoping for the best. If we are honest with ourselves, it comes from our own fears about dying. We hear so much negative stories, that we all get fearful that we will get sick, like that person in a story we saw, and we will die. We get paralyzed by the thought of dying from some stupid virus that has the world on edge. The virus everyone is scared of and may or may not have been engineered in a lab as part of a great, horrible scheme. This fear doesn’t just sit by quietly, but rises up to manifest anger and hostility. Many think of anger as one of our primary emotions, but actually it is a secondary emotion. It stems from a hurt, or perceived hurt or threat. So whenever our well-being is threatened, we will often react out of anger. In other words, when we feel scared, we get mad. At others. At ourselves. At God.
I believe God has given a bit of a healthy fear of dying, so we will try to be careful and not jump out of planes without parachutes, but not so much that we live paralyzed lives, restricting ourselves to the point we lash out at others, like a caged wild animal. We cannot predict our own future, even in the best of times and situations. Life has many turns and twists that we do not see coming. But, God does have a plan for everything to work out. We can face anything with the assurance that God can be trusted. That what He tells us in the Bible. Some versions of the verse I quoted in the beginning of this blog, substitute the word ‘believe’ with ‘trust’ “Trust in God, trust also in me.”
Heaven is a real future for us, Jesus told us this, and even though we might feel a bit scared when we think about dying, we need to think about what Jesus’ promised. There is a place for us, He is getting it ready, for whenever it is our time to move in. The Covid virus has scared us, because for some of us, we had to face the big question- what happens if I get the virus, or what will happen to me if I get sick and don’t recover, that is die? Before the pandemic, people might not have given it much thought, but now they must consider this important question. And it scares them. This fear creates anger towards others, even God, but whether it is from a virus first appearing in China, or some other cause, we will all die someday. It is not something we can avoid. No mask or physical distancing will keep that moment from coming. The question is, Are we ready? Have we trusted in Jesus? Is is working on a room for you? I’d like you as my neighbor. -God Bless – Nancy