“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3
One of my favorite missionary stories is of a couple who, after decades of faithful service overseas, was returning back to the States. Their heart’s desire was to stay on the field, but their age and failing health concerned their mission board and after packing up their belongings they boarded a steamship bound for New York.
Also traveling on the same ocean liner was a popular, well-known government official and his wife. Over the weeks at sea this elderly couple observed the official’s drunkenness, womanizing, and foul language. It was a marked contrast to the lifestyle to which they’d become accustomed. They grew even more disheartened, when, upon their arrival in New York, the official and his wife were greeted with great fanfare—a brass band, reporters and photographers, roses for his wife—the works!
And so this aged missionary couple, health broken and spent in their service for Christ, walked off the gangplank and through the crowd, unmet and seemingly unknown. As they walked, a tear trickled down the husband’s cheek.
“What’s wrong?” his wife asked.
“My whole life I’ve given to serving Christ. We’ve spent ourselves for Jesus and nobody is here to greet us. There’s no bouquet of flowers for you.”
His dear wife thought for a minute and then said, “Honey, we’re not home yet. We’re not home yet.”
That simple perspective could change the way we live our lives. Jesus, wanting to draw His disciples from earthbound living and pointless pursuits, told them that He was leaving to return to the Father, but that His leaving held a wonderful promise for them. He was going to prepare a place—for them, and for us! And, what’s more, He will return personally to usher us into our new digs. What an incredible promise!
That promise kept the disciples from digging their roots too deeply into the stuff of earth. Earthly power and influence no longer held the same appeal. The world’s pleasures lost their luster in the glory of intimacy with Jesus and the fact that He would soon return for them. And temporal, earthbound possessions lost their grip. What trinkets of this world could compare with the treasures that were in store for them in heaven? They conquered seduction, temptation, and discouragement knowing that they weren’t home yet. They lived for the moment when Jesus would return to take them to His incomparable home.
We need a little more of that thinking in our daily lives, don’t we? It’s so easy to think that this world and all it offers is all we have. It’s easy to live for the applause of men, for fleeting creature comforts and the accumulation of stuff. We are bent toward making ourselves more and more at home here, at great cost to our spiritual lives, forgetting that a far better home is being prepared for us.
So today, when your head is turned by something this world has to offer or when seeds of discontent try to take root in your heart or when you are discouraged thinking that all you have done for Jesus is in vain, remember: you’re not home yet!
This passage first appeared in “Strength for the Journey with Joe Stowell” (www.getmorestrength.org)