Jesus and His Ruby Red Slippers…John 14:1-3
Dorothy had to go to a weird place like Oz to find out that there’s no place like home. For her, it was back in Kansas. For many students, the answer lies out in front instead of in the rear view mirror – especially students living away from home. It doesn’t take long, usually by Thanksgiving. Home for a weekend, we gather the recently-dirty-now-clean laundry, pile up the restocking of snacks and frozen leftovers, hunt around in every pocket to make sure we picked up the reloaded cash card and make the innocent comment around Mom and Dad that we’re now ready to get in the car to go HOME (meaning campus). They will grin and maybe nod. Then, sometime after we’ve pulled out of the driveway or after they’ve driven us back and done the “dinner out before they leave” thing, someone will have a good cry. Mom or Dad will have sensed that an important centering of what home is now gives way to the psychological gravitational pull in another direction. A permanent shift “away from” even though the “shift to” may change often.
Knowing and following Jesus Christ does much the same. John was the last gospel written. He played deep in the weeds while Matthew, Mark and Luke gave their best shot to telling Who Jesus was. Then he could look over their work and think, “What still needs to be said?” He did mop up work, filling in the blanks. That’s a huge reason why his book is so different from the other three. John 14-16, the “Upper Room Discourse”, is a good example. Although the boys didn’t know it, Jesus would be arrested later that night and dead by the next day. But He knew it. And He chose his words and subjects with extreme care.
The disciples found a new center and home when they found Jesus Christ. Old concerns and priorities receded. A new center in Jesus Christ had grown new hope, new appetites, new dreams and goals. Jesus wanted them to know they’d made no mistake. “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1) “Believe” in the Bible never means just information or facts stored on a chip in our head to be retrieved if we ever get on Jeopardy. It describes knowledge that is not neutral; it forces decision, often demands action and (the best part) instills trust. It can hold us up when everything seems to be pulling us down or knocking us flat.”Can you trust the God of the Old Testament, the parter of the Red Sea Who sets mountains on fire with just His presence?” Of course they could. “You can trust Me the same way…because I’m Him.” The matter-of-fact tone that rises out of the text is amazing. THIS IS HUGE…AND IT GETS HUGER, MORE HUGE, GREATER HUGITY OR HUGENESS. Make up your own word. You get the idea. Jesus can hold us up; He can support all the weight of body and soul when we collapse. When times are good, there’s not much air in this balloon. But life never telegraphs its punches and the smack down of the disciple’s lives whistled through the night as Jesus spoke.
And Jesus talked about home. “Dwelling places” doesn’t mean a temporary roof over the head, a cheap motel, a dormitory or student hostel overseas. It’s a place that will lock down our spiritual center, the roots of person that we are. For good. Students at one school were interviewed with one question. “What does it take for the dorm or apartment to become ‘Home”? What needs to be there?” A stuffed animal on the bed. A University of Georgia throw rug on the floor. Christmas lights wrapped around the loft bed and strung across the ceiling. Favorite posters.
How surprised and confused they were to hear Him say that He was going to prepare a place for them! The builder and carpenter He was would guarantee the sheer craftsmanship; HIm being God (They were still fuzzy on this.) would conform this special place to every nook and cranny of the restored image of God in them according to all the spit and polish the Holy Spirit could muster. And Jesus would see His face reflected in both dwelling and dweller.
In following Jesus, we feel deeply the same kind of tug that makes many of us call the campus “home”. The ties to the others like friends in the campus ministry, the grappling with discovering and refining our calling, chewing on ideas and building muscle of mind, growing stronger in our faith and deeper in love with Jesus – these all gently, yet persistently, pull us to a new center. And other things change besides what we call “home”. Things once loved, not just sin and evil but legitimate desires, lifestyle issues or hobbies now just seem to be, well, in the way. On a campus speaking gig, I met a student off to med school to be a general practitioner and make a good living. I said, “Why don’t you pray about going somewhere in the world where they really need doctors.?” His carefully planned life now seemed to get more inconvenient to new hungers growing inside.He began to yearn for the last thing he ever thought he’d want. He began to go to dark corners of the world. He’s in quite a place today.
One more kicker. Jesus said this would be so beyond good that nobody gets that first look at their face when they see it but Him. (v.3) All this from a Guy Who knew He’s be dead in less than twenty-four hours. And Who also knew the failure, fear and discouragement that would swallow them. And that they too would die and otherwise undergo pain and suffering (for Him). Pain, discomfort, discouragement are all part of the process of making sure we don’t allow places and things here become “home” here and seduce, divert or distract us from tugs on the heart toward a home that will never need a certain rug, poster or even Christmas lights (I love them but following Jesus and the home He has in mind will have something better.).
Home. With Jesus building, the tug toward it is good, arriving – just the best. And nobody will have to bring their dirty laundry home to get clean. He has already taken care of that Himself too. No place like it.
Prayer Point – Are we struggling because something is starting to get in the way and we’re arguing with God about letting go? Could be a habit, a relationship, plans or possessions, time use, etc. Pray with a pad and pencil handy. Some these things may be at crisis point with decisions pressing and needing to happen this summer or maybe first thing next fall. Some may be an initial struggle that we’ll have to watch out for the rest of our lives
Action Point – Do we need to pack a box and either give it to a friend, someone in need or take it to the Salvation Army? Only you and Jesus know what goes in the box. Someone said, “If we can’t give it away or leave it alone, we are not free. We need something too much.” Most who drift away from Christ and His Kingdom have been seduced by the innocent – something respectable, innocent and good that is short of God’s best.
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Please return your seat to the upright position and return your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant at the rear as you leave. See you next post at geezeronthequad.com.