In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. – John 14:2
Last week I wrote about a trip back to our former home in Michigan, when we discovered that thirty years of work my husband had lovingly put into the house had been undone; the new owners had new ideas for their home that were apparently different from ours. We had come just after the house had been totally gutted, so it had been a bit of a shock, to say the least.
What I didn’t tell about was the next time I saw the house.
I was in Port Huron for a book signing and stopped by my former next-door neighbor’s for a visit. After she and I had caught up on one another’s lives, I was walking back to my car and noticed how nice our old yard looked. It was a beautiful day, so I pulled out my phone to snap some pictures to show Marty when I got home.
I was casually walking along the edge of the yard, trying not to be conspicuous, when I heard a woman’s voice ask, “May I help you?” I stammered my explanation. The lady graciously said I was welcome to take as many pictures as I wanted, then asked if I’d like to come in.
This “tour” was light years different from the one Marty and I had taken months before. Suppressing a gasp, I asked if I could take more pictures, and again permission was granted with a smile.
I felt as though I were taking pictures for House Beautiful magazine – the new decor was stunning. The wall between the kitchen and dining room had been knocked out – something we had discussed doing but had kept procrastinating over the years. The kitchen now had a panoramic view of the lake, especially since the new owners had cut down the weeping birch and cherry tree, which every spring had bloomed so beautifully we could never bring ourselves to remove them.
One of the closets in the master bedroom had been opened up and transformed into a coffee bar, for those mornings you just don’t want to go downstairs before your first jolt of caffeine and would prefer to sip a latte while watching the sunrise over the lake. (Why didn’t we think of that?)
The huge attic had been carpeted and made into the grandchildren’s quarters (There was enough room for a kickball game up there.) The soft blues and greens throughout the house gave it an idyllic, summer-home feel. (I’m not sure how that felt in the dead of winter, but as I was wandering through it that August day, it was heavenly.)
More descriptions wouldn’t do justice to the gorgeous house I was seeing. As much as I loved and appreciated our home of 30+ years, I had to admit, this new version of it was amazing.
Seeing our old house again, first in its completely dismantled stage and then after its transformation, reminded me of the emotional rollercoaster I had always felt when reading C. S. Lewis’s The Last Battle.
Of all the many books I have read to my children and grandchildren, the Chronicles of Narnia were among our very favorites. Over the years we read all seven books multiple times, until Narnia felt like our second home. The final book in the series, The Last Battle, takes place during the last days of Narnia.
SPOILER ALERT! A wicked ape has come up with a plot to deceive the other creatures of Narnia and take over the kingdom. With the help of a not-too-bright donkey, and later gaining allies among the disgruntled and the downright evil, the ape rises to power, oppressing and enslaving the innocent and recklessly bringing destruction to all the land, as he gathers wealth for himself at everyone else’s expense.
The story is more and more heart wrenching, as the situation gets darker and darker. Every time there seems to be a glimmer of hope, that hope is dashed, as evil moves in and take over again. In the end, it looks as though wrong has won, and Narnia is destroyed.
And yet, it’s not quite the end of the story after all. The children from our world, who have witnessed the last battle and the destruction of Narnia, are to find that they aren’t going back to their world, either. They learn that there has been a train accident, and they and their parents now belong to neither world anymore. They are to be reunited in a new Narnia – the real Narnia. They learn that the Narnia they have been experiencing was merely a shadow all along, and that this world is a mere foretaste of the world to come. The book ends with the “New Narnia,” with everything and everyone that made Narnia (and this world) wonderful, in a new paradise that now will last forever.
In the book of Revelation, the apostle John wrote,
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” (Revelation 21:1)
For the Christian, this world is a mere shadow. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, and it will be glorious beyond our wildest imagination.
No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. – I Corinthians 2:9
We will all experience disappointment, loss, and grief in this life. People and places we love will be taken from us. Eventually our health, our strength, even our minds, will deteriorate and wind down. As they say, “Growing old isn’t for cowards!” It will seem to us at times that the life we’ve known and everything we’ve loved has been gutted and destroyed. But whatever our loss here, if we have put our faith in Jesus, the best is yet to come!
Prayer: Lord, You have promised us a new home in heaven, and at times we wish we could be there now! Help us to make the most of our time in this finite world, doing Your will and sharing the good news of the gospel with anyone and everyone along the way, until we take our last breath. In Jesus’ name, amen.