Thursday, May 11, 2017

How Can We Know the Way?

By Colleen O’Sullivan

“We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you that what God promised our fathers he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.’”  (Acts 13:32-33)

Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”. (John 14:5-6)

I go where God and glory shine,
To one eternal day
And this failing body I now resign,
For the Christ has made a way
For the Christ has made a way
(Absent from Flesh, The Mercy Seat EP, Music by Jamie Barnes of Sojourn, lyrics adapted from hymn written by Isaac Watts, 1734)

Stretched out on our bed in a hotel in Switzerland many years ago, my sister and I were bored. She lived in Geneva, and every visit from family or friends was an excuse to explore some other corner of this beautiful Alpine country. Her children, just 2 and 4, had already been put to bed. We picked up the hotel room Bible, which was in German, and were idly leafing through its pages. I came to today’s Gospel reading and read it to my sister. We both started laughing. When Jesus stated that there were many dwelling places in his Father’s house, the German translation used the word that is generally used to refer to apartments. With nothing better to do, we laughed ourselves silly at the mental image of high rises in heaven.

I don’t think Jesus was talking about apartments, condos, mansions or any other sort of physical dwelling place, but I imagine Thomas and the other disciples thought he was. Jesus said they couldn’t go with him right then but promised to come back at a later time for them. Thomas not only wanted to know where Jesus was going but also wanted directions on how to get there.

There aren’t any earthly maps or navigation systems that will lead us to the dwelling place Jesus describes. Jesus is leaving to be in the loving presence of his Father. Forever. And Jesus answers Thomas by saying, “I am the Way.”  Being Jesus’ friend and follower is to already be on the way to that same life with the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Forever.
Many of us don’t like to think about dying. God is good to us in this life. We have many wonderful relationships with family and friends. There is much to enjoy in nature. God’s blessings abound when we stop to count them and the thought of leaving it all behind is sad.

But if Jesus is the One you trust, the cornerstone of your faith if you are truly rooted in the Lord, then having Jesus take us to the place where he was going will be the most wonderful thing imaginable. Joy untold!  Forever.

When I was growing up, someone gave me a placemat with my name on it. For years, that placemat showed up in front of me every time I sat down at the kitchen table. The day came when it was time to leave for college. I didn’t want to lose my “place,” so I got my mom to promise that no one else would take over my seat and that my placemat would still be there when I came home.

We all long for a place to be, a place to call home. And in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus promises all of us a forever home, a place in heaven, a special place in God’s loving heart. Jesus has already prepared the way.

No need to wait till we die to find our place. We can have a special place here and now by being friends with the Lord. And the only way I know to do that is to have a disciplined prayer life, to spend time talking and listening to God. When we do that, we discover how much we are loved. We can truly look forward to the day when the angels lead us to our forever home.

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