When I was a kid, I loved to read superhero comic books. I was into DC comics more than Marvel, although I read both. Superman and Batman were my favorites.
I remember one time an offer in one of those comic books for a decoder ring. I just had to mail in proof of purchase from two comic books to get the ring. I cut out the proof of purchase seals, mailed them in and waited. I waited for what seemed like a long time to a ten-year-old kid who couldn’t wait to get his decoder ring and send secret messages.
Finally, the ring arrived. Even as a ten-year-old I could tell it was cheap and cheesy. It broke within a few days. Somehow, it didn’t feel like the decoder ring people had kept their promise. The decoder ring certainly wasn’t what I had hoped for.
Life is full of promises. Some promises are kept, and some are broken. Some promises are highly important, and some are less important.
One thing stands out to me in my experience in life—a promise is only as good as the integrity of the one making it.
In John, chapter 14, Jesus is in the upper room with his closest disciples, celebrating the Passover. He makes two amazing promises to them: “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that 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 NIV)
Jesus is speaking about heaven and eternal life. He promises to go ahead of us and prepare a place for us there. And He promises to come back and take us to be with Him in that place.
When we travel to North Carolina to visit our son and daughter-in-law, they prepare a place for us in the guest room upstairs in their house. We know we have a place to stay with people we love. And we know our son and daughter-in-law love us, so we never even think about the possibility they are going to deceive us. Their promise is a way better promise than a cheap decoder ring!
These promises come from Jesus, the Son of God. They are dependable and true. A place in eternity is prepared, and He will come to bring us to it. That is the faith we live in, here and now.
You see, it makes a difference whether or not we believe these promises. If this life is all there is, and when we die, we simply cease to exist, then we will live our lives totally focused on getting everything we can out of this life. In 1 Corinthians 15:32, the Apostle Paul says, “If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
On the other hand, if we know this life leads to eternal life, it becomes important to invest in eternal things and not spend our lives chasing after the pleasures of the world.
I have read John 14:1-6 at countless funeral services and sought to comfort families with the truth of eternal life in the face of a loved one’s death. The truth of these promises does not remove the grief and loss of the death of someone we love, but there is comfort in knowing physical death is not the end, and we who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ have the hope of eternal life. An eternal perspective changes our experience of the things of this life.
As an old gospel song proclaims, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” I’m living for something bigger and more real than the material stuff of this life. How about you?