Because we are so familiar with the Bible, it is sometimes tempting not to read it again. Never yield to that temptation. The Bible is a living book and it is always fresh. It is new with promises and warnings and instructions every day—custom-made for only-God-knows-what we will face. When you open your Bible with an expectant heart sometimes a phrase will just leap into your life.
That happened to me one morning when I was reading one of the most familiar passages of the New Testament. John 14:3… “…I go to prepare a place for you…”
My parents have faithfully served the Lord all my life, day after day and week after week. I’ve never seen anyone with more devotion to Christ and his cause. They were not afraid to face hardship and make sacrifices in the service of Christ. Some of my best life lessons were the result of my parent’s resolve to serve Him no matter what.
My second year of college was one of the most difficult of my life. It was the year Dad and Mom put our family into great hardship because of their resolve to serve the Lord. Dad never had a more impressive title but his salary was very modest. He was the academic dean of a small Bible College in Michigan.
I went back to college in Missouri and the rest of the family moved to Michigan into a small townhouse. It was very, very modest. To complicate things my sister and brother-in-law were displaced for a few months and they moved in with mom and dad in an already-cramped living arrangement.
As soon as classes were dismissed in December I eagerly made my way home for Christmas. When I crossed into Michigan it began to snow on cue like an old movie.
I found my parent’s strange place, in a strange state, in a strange city, in a strange neighborhood. It is disconcerting to have to drive up and down the street looking for your home—where you have never been before.
I was greeted warmly. Dad apologized for the cramped quarters and showed me to a place he had made up for me in the crowded basement. For Christmas break I would be sleeping on a sofa stored in the basement surrounded by stacks of boxes.
I lay in “bed” that night struggling with discouragement. I had no place of my own. Even with my family around me, it was hard to feel like you belonged anymore.
When God released my parents from that ministry they moved back to our beloved Ohio. There was really no way to describe the joy we had in going back… even moving back to the home where we had previously lived. It was a very, very happy trip.
When springtime came and classes were over I aimed my VW for Ohio. I didn’t need a map. I knew the way home. From far away I could see my brothers playing with the dog in the yard, watching for me. It was long before cell phones and with all the variables of a twelve-hour trip, they had to spend the afternoon and evening out there to be sure they would be able to greet me when I drove in.
There were hugs and tears and laughter. Mom made my favorite meal that night. The house smelled like home. There was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. There were plates piled with goulash. There were stories, one overlapping another.
What lives in my memory even today was when Dad showed me up-stairs to my room. I had a room of my own in the upstairs of the farmhouse. My stereo was there. (Stereos were really, really big back then). My bed and dresser were there. My books were there. My things were hanging on the wall. My clothes were in the closet. My shoes were lined up on the floor. My belongings were there. Beneath an open window was my bed. On the bed was my quilt.
After an evening snack, we watched the evening news and then we all made our way to bed.
I climbed the stairs to my room. I crawled into my own bed and lay awake enjoying the luxury of that last few minutes before being overtaken by sleep. The air moved the curtains. Outside were the sounds and scents of nighttime in the country. I drifted into peaceful sleep in the place my father had prepared for me…just for me.
Jesus said; I go to prepare a place for you… The place He prepares for me will be custom-made with me in mind and nobody knows me like He does. I don’t even know myself as well as He does.
Most of all, He will be there. We will be in the best of places—in the best of company in the place he is preparing for us. “…that where I am you may be also…” (John 14:4)
August 1, 2011