Formations 06.12.2022: A Prepared Place

John 14:1-14

Death is part of life. It seems ironic, but we all know it’s true. For me today, this truth hits my spirit hard. I woke up this morning to a devastating text message about a longtime friend—she was killed yesterday by a van driver as she bicycled in her rural town. Though we have been mostly Facebook friends rather than in-person friends for several years now, I have always kept up with her many adventures, watching her rebuild her life after her first husband died at age thirty of a brain aneurysm.

As a widow, she met and married a widower, and the two made their own family together. Their blended family includes three daughters, one son, and a granddaughter. She was an avid, competitive bicyclist, taking up the hobby later in life and working hard to win several races. She was a brilliant watercolorist, another hobby she developed in midlife, honing an obvious natural gift through classes and creating truly striking pieces of art. She was a gifted pianist. She was a fellow Doctor Who fan who went with me to see the 50th anniversary special at the theater. She was dearly loved and will be deeply missed.

Because of this fresh tragedy (and on the heels of recent shootings and sickness and war), verses 1-4 of today’s Scripture passage speak powerfully to me. I have felt especially fragile as a human being today, using more caution than normal as I drove on an errand and as I walked my dogs down the street. In our American culture, we don’t like to talk about death. But it is indeed part of life. And Jesus’ words to his scared, confused disciples offer great comfort to those of us who worry about the fragility of life and wonder what comes next.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 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? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”

It is comforting to hear our beloved Savior calming our troubled hearts. It is lovely to imagine him preparing places for us where he has gone to be with God. It is reassuring to know that he will come for us so that we can be where he is once and for all. And it is encouraging to hear him say that we know the way to this place.

My friend knew and loved Jesus Christ. She has entered this place that he prepared for her. And one day I will enter it too.

Discussion

• If you have lost someone dear to you, what has that experience been like? What hope have you found after this person’s death?
• What do you know about how various cultures address and process death? How does this differ from your own culture?
• What do you think Jesus meant by “many dwelling-places” in his Father’s house? How do you think he is preparing these places for us?
• What is the way to the place that Jesus has prepared? How does knowing this give you hope in the face of tragedy and loss?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

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