There is a standing joke between me and my husband concerning our house; it is in a state of constant renovation going on 10 years. So far, the majority of the progress made has been infrastructure; plumbing, rewiring of the electrical. Now our repairs have focused on the “reconstructive cosmetic” aspect. One summer my husband and I tore down the back yard fence. The rebuilding process was a learning experience for me. I had never “built” anything, and my husband didn't trust me with his tools. My husband is a master carpenter, albeit a reluctant one.
So our latest project was rebuilding the front porch. The porch was literally hanging on by a prayer. Afterwards, we were surprised at how fast we got the work done, no one was hurt, and the marriage was still intact. I joked with my husband that we should motivate to finish other outstanding projects, because who knows, this house could be our home in the eternities. We had a big laugh out of that one, but I felt that maybe we weren't far from the truth. I had an impression that my husband and I are stewards of this house and all that came with it. We are bound to this house which is now a home in many ways. I could say that the circumstances of the evolution of our house/home parallel the ongoing conversion process of my husband and me as a couple and as individuals. As followers of Christ, our conversion process has encompassed all of our relationships. We have experienced changes in the perspective of our family spheres, in our friendship sphere and in our work sphere’s. These are those “growing pains”
So now we have one more project for the summer, and that is to paint the master bedroom and replace some furniture. My task was to move everything out, clean the walls, shampoo the carpet and my husband would come in and prep and paint the walls.( I did my part). So it’s been a month and we are in a complete stand still and we have been sleeping on a very uncomfortable futon. I had reached a point of “critical mass” and became quite despondent. My thoughts ran like this: “How long are we going to have to sleep on the futon?” “How long can a person function with minimal sleep before she crashes and flame up?” “My back feels like a pretzel.” These were my thoughts and I did feel bad because I was whining, but my testimony is that the Lord is merciful and kind.
This was a prime opportunity for me to witness the “atonement” in this moment. How does the atonement cover a stalled paint job? This verse put everything into perspective, but I had to seek it out:
John 14 1-2
1 Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am there ye may be also.
So, I have been pondering over this for a while and it is fascinating to see how the answer to my question is evolving. I want to break down this verse, because the lesson for me to learn is to seek the higher blessing. Right now I am living with both feet straddled in two spheres, the temporal sphere and the other foot in the “hope of a celestial sphere”. I say hope because I am a work in progress toward the Celestial sphere, but a portion of the blessings of that Celestial sphere is available to be enjoyed in my present state.
In John 14:1, the setting is shortly before Jesus is to be arrested, tried, crucified and then rise again in triumph. I know that in this situation he was doing his best to calm the fears and hysteria of his beloved disciples. They have probably asked many questions, cried their hearts out and at last wondered “What will we do without you Master?” They had left their homes and families, good paying jobs and followed him and now I am sure they are worried that nothing will be left of their former lives as they try to go back home. So Jesus comforts them with these words in verse one:
1 Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.
What is he saying here, are these just soothing words or were these words to encourage them to “remember” who they are and to “gird” themselves up to face the challenging times ahead. The second statement; “Ye believe in God, believe also in me” was a reminder that “I and my Father are One.” John 10:30
In verse 2 He begins to teach them, the higher law.
2 In my Father’s house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
I feel like that the mindset of his disciples at that time was no different from that my mind as I go each day without accomplishing my goal of painting my bedroom. But the painting of the bedroom opens the door to other worries; such as will I ever be able to “enjoy” my home again; will I feel like I live there instead of “visiting”. Other worries like, the basement creeps in, and a new heating and air conditioning unit; and it goes on and on; so verse 2 caused me to ponder more. What is the Savior trying to teach me and his disciples here? I was intrigued by the word mansion; I have always wanted my own mansion. I found an explanation of the context of the word mansion as spoken by Jesus.
Mansions. In the Father’s house (His temple, which models His heavenly realms) are many “resting places” or “dwelling places,” but these places are not necessarily large and spacious (John 14:2).
In the middle part of this verse; “If it were not so, I would have told you.” the Savior wants to alleviate any doubts in the minds of his disciples, even you and me, that he is the Son of God. They were not victims of a fairy tale:
2 Peter 1:16 For we have not followed cunning devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty,
3 Nephi 9:15 Behold I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God…I created the heavens and the earth and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning; I am in the Father and the Father in me: and in me hath the Father glorified his name.
And then this surprising statement; very humble and loving and serving “I go to prepare a place for you.
What does he mean? Where is he going?
When I was younger, I would imagine that since Jesus was a carpenter, he would go and literally build everyone their own special house. But I had an impression that this verse had a companion in Psalms 23. The Lord is establishing without a doubt that He is the One, who was prepared from the foundation of the world.
When I have previously imagined the setting of this last meeting between Jesus and his disciples, I imagined that it took place almost at random. The Savior and the disciples were gathered in a remote place, and Jesus was sitting and talking and his disciples were huddled together in fear. But now, I imagine a different setting that is more formal, more serious. I have to give the disciples more credit for asking the “right questions”. This will be the last “lesson” for them and the tone is more celestial . I feel like this lesson was included in that “last supper” event.
- Jesus says: In my Father’s house (Temple)
- There are many mansions: (rooms of rest)
- I go to prepare a place (I AM he; the lamb who was prepared from the very foundation of the world; for this purpose was I born)
- I AM the way, the truth and the light (I will guide you to this place); I AM that place prepared for you; I AM the bread of life and so forth.
- Come all ye who are burdened and heavy laden and I AM he that will give you rest; endure until the end and come into my “rest”.
- Peace; I give unto you, not as the world, give I unto you, but my peace, my rest.
The Savior reveals his name, his whole identity, as Jehovah the God of Israel, as the great I AM. I imagine that this meeting was similar in context to the transfiguration of the Savior, in which only Peter, James and John witnessed. Now this is a gathering of the twelve. It was like Moses going up into the mount to receive the commandments of God for the children of Israel. In this setting he reveals the entire plan of salvation and challenges the disciples to put their lives and their mission into the proper perspective.
Earlier in the beginning of their mission he challenged them to “walk away” from their lives and trust in him that their temporal lives would be sustained in their absence, and most did. Throughout their mission training the Savior taught about faith, and faith in him as the Son of God and in the truth that “With God all things are possible.” This is the portion of the atonement that teaches us, me and you that we are more than the sum of our parts. Those parts being our hopes and dreams etc; worries and fears and yes even unpainted bedrooms.
Psalms 23 is the first scripture I memorized as a child. My grandmother Elizabeth gave all of her granddaughters (only 2 of us at the time) a small New Testament bible. She wanted us to know who Jesus was and in knowing come to love Him as she did. She had us memorize Psalms 23, and I did, so that whenever she would ask me, I would do it, but I could not explain what it meant.
1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoint my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
So now, can I put my unpainted bedroom walls in perspective? I know that this is as important to the Savior as it is to me, but I realize that I was having a “Martha moment”. The Savior says:
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she helps me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha; thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
I want to be more like Mary and sit at the feet of the Savior, the wall will be painted.