“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)
“Your room is ready,” can be the most comforting words ever heard. At least for me, they were the most welcomed words I heard during a sight-seeing trip through China.
A number of years ago, my husband and I took a three-week trip to China that included a five-night cruise on the Yangtze River. The last morning of the cruise I awoke with the stomach virus that had been making its way through the passengers.
We were to disembark at 9 a.m., get on a bus and go to the zoo to see the pandas. I was really looking forward to that, but I was not feeling well; it was looking to be a long, not so pleasant day.
At the zoo, I moseyed along with the group, but at times, I was lagging behind. In spite of that, I made it to see the pandas, as well as a number of the premier animals at the zoo.
I confess, however, that before boarding the bus again … I had left my mark at the zoo. I was not feeling well when we boarded the bus and heard our guide’s voice on the microphone telling us our agenda for the rest of day.
The line-up was a traditional Chinese hot pot lunch (oh boy); trying new exotic foods did not sound like the best remedy for an upset stomach. After lunch there would be a tour of the city.
Then came the most welcomed words I had ever heard — she said, “I called the hotel earlier to let them know there were a few people in our group not feeling well. Although check-in is not until 3 p.m., the hotel did just call to let me know that they have four rooms ready.”
It just so happened there were four of us not feeling well that day. When you are sick, and on a tour in another country, the most comforting words you can hear are: “Your room is ready.”
The four of us were dropped off at the hotel, skipping lunch and the city tour. We were left to rest and recuperate in luxurious rooms that were ready for us, so that the next day we were well — and well-rested for the next adventure.
“Your room is ready” were welcomed words to my ears.
And yet how puny, how pale those words were in comparison to these words of Jesus spoken to his followers, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”
Although these words seem to speak of a place, they so much more than that. Jesus speaks these words to his disciples, his closest followers, in order to comfort them and assure them that they will be cared for when he is no longer with them.
For the room of which Jesus speaks is more than a place. The room, as a “dwelling place” or “abiding place,” isn’t really a room. Rather, it is a relationship. To dwell in the Father’s house is to live in relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
We have that relationship now, or are invited to begin that relationship or grow in that relationship. In a sense, we are already in the “room” that Jesus has prepared.
We abide in him, just as he says he abides in the Father and the Father abides in him. We are invited to be with Jesus, and Christians have learned that when hardship and adversity and pain and loss are realities of our daily lives, being with Jesus is a great comfort.
It’s like hearing those wonderful words, “Your room is ready.”
Rev. June M. Fryman is Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Wilmington.