The last 3 weeks have been rather difficult to say the least. As well as all the emotions that have been going around my head, I have been told numerous times that people are surprised that I’ve been back at work, or that I am here rather than in Birmingham. It doesn’t take much to confuse me, but I really have been confused – mainly asking the question am I reacting in the right way?
Throughout all the confusion, the exhaustion and the emotion, I have also felt completely and utterly grounded. How I have been grounded? I have been grounded in my faith.
On Tuesday I had the privilege of giving the address at my Dad’s funeral, and I think it is able to explain why I have been grounded, and how my faith has been an essential part of that… so here it is… based on the reading John 14:1-8
Life is full of journeys, definitely when you grow up with a dad who’s a cub leader. Weekends, summer holidays, there was often a trip. With the necessary skills of Having a destination, working out the route, following a map, and working out how to get back on track when necessary. My first day at Handsworth he came with me through town to make sure I got to the right bus stop, luckily there were other girls from school who he left me with so I didn’t have that ultra-embarrassment of my dad dropping me off at school. But he still made sure I knew my route.
This was not only the case practically, and physically but also spiritually. Dad knew his final destination, and that this life was just part of his journey to that final destination. His whole life was a reflection of the knowledge that he was loved by God, and that he was walking with God even when the obstacles seemingly got in the way.
In the passage that Gav has just read the disciples were becoming increasingly aware that Jesus was going to be leaving them, they didn’t really understand what that meant but it was upsetting which is why Jesus was trying to comfort them. The comfort he brought was that through their belief in Jesus as God, they would come to the Father, and that through knowing Jesus they knew the father. Dad knew this comfort as well.
The first comfort was, that through belief in Jesus as God, they would come to the father. Dad knew that the Easter story wasn’t just a story that meant chocolate eggs – although he didn’t say no, but that it was a fundamental part of his faith. The belief that through Jesus’ death and resurrection at Easter, He would return to the father meaning that we too, are able to return to the father, who created each and every one of us, and loves us for who we are.
Jesus wasn’t abandoning his disciples, but was creating a place for them so that they too can be in relationship with the father, not for a short space of time, but for eternity. This is the same promise for us. God created humans in His image and to be in relationship with him, we have all done things that are undeserving, but because of Jesus that relationship can be restored and we can return home.
This really would have brought such comfort for the disciples. I know that there is always something comforting about returning home after a long day, or coming back to the home I grew up in. Knowing that it is a place of safety, with people who love and care for me. How much more comforting, to know that we are able to return to our heavenly father and to be in relationship with Him.
The second comfort for the disciples was that through knowing Jesus they knew the Father. Jesus was God on earth, his life was a life of love. He cared, he comforted, he taught, he wept. Before Jesus, God was a far away idea of a being who was all-powerful with plenty of barriers separating humanity from God. Jesus broke those barriers down, his life, death and resurrection demonstrated the love of God for all humanity, not just certain people who followed certain rules – But EVERYONE. Through Jesus’ life the disciples had experienced God, and that is still the same today. Through a relationship with Jesus, we are all able to know the father and be in relationship with Him, the one who created us and loves us for who we are, because that’s how he made us.
Dad knew this love. He knew that he was loved by God for who he was. He took the time to understand more about God, and it filled his life, and therefore the lives of those around him.
It is fair to say that Dad was one of a kind, with a unique sense of humour – which took a while to understand, and he wasn’t really a talker (not when it came to feelings anyway). But he cared and he loved. He reflected the love of God that he knew. In the same way that through knowing Jesus we may know the father, we also see something of God in other people, and for me, that was definitely the case with both mum and dad.
Dad would be pleased to know that he has set a challenge, or four, for all of us.
Do we know the love of God, and that we are loved for who we are?
Do we know that through Jesus we are able to have a relationship with God here and now?
Do we know that Jesus has prepared a place for us in our heavenly home with our heavenly father?
Do other people know the love of God, through the lives that we live?
Life is full of journeys, especially when your dad is a cub leader, but if you know where you are heading, then even when you think you’re going in the wrong direction, or when the journey is particularly treacherous, there is a comfort in knowing that you are not alone, and that you will reach that destination – it just might not be quite the journey you would have liked.