Every fortnight people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.
The month of May gave us the first sunshine of the year.
As I was writing this article in the early evening the sun was shining through my office window. While the sun is shining preparation for Christmas has to be made – and yes you heard me right!
There is one job we have been putting off and it needs done in order to be prepared for Christmas. The turkey house needs cleaned out! Back breaking, smelly work but the house needs prepared for the day that the old birds will arrive in a few weeks time.
Preparation is necessary now to provide for all those who will turn up in December looking for that oven ready bird to serve on Christmas day. Preparation is key. Come with me then and listen to the conversation that Jesus has with His disciples as they share their last meal. It is recorded for us in John chapter 14.
Jesus tells the disciples that He is going to leave them, troubled and distressed by the news Jesus speaks these wonderful words of reassurance. “‘Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself”’ (John 14:1-3).
Jesus speaks about preparation. Preparation is key. The word that Jesus uses for preparation is a military word that refers to the body of troops who went before the main regiment to set up the camp and to make preparations so that all was ready for the soldiers when they arrived. There would be nothing for them to do, as all the preparations had been made and the work was complete. Anyone involved with BB Camp will remember the advance party who went before the main group of campers to make everything ready.
Jesus says I go to prepare a place for you, a place He describes as many mansions or rooms. From the Upper Room Jesus was going to the cross at Calvary.
To prepare a place in heaven required the Lord Jesus to go to die on the cross. All that is needed to be sure of heaven has been prepared in full by the Lord Jesus. There is nothing we can do to assist, to help, to make ourselves ready for heaven. Jesus has prepared it all, by his death on the cross. Jesus is the advance party and all is ready.
The way to heaven is by the cross, by believing and trusting in all that Jesus accomplished at Calvary. As the hymn writer reminds each of us, ‘Nothing in my hand I bring simply to the cross I cling’.
We know that Thomas was unsure about the way to heaven, so he asks Jesus Himself, “‘How can we know the way?’” Jesus gently tells him and reminds us that “‘I am the way the truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by me,’” (John 14:6).
Jesus is the way. The children’s chorus says ‘One way God said to get to heaven Jesus is the only way’. The preparation has all been made, it has all been done, we just simply need to trust the One who has done all the work.
Robin Fairbairn is pastor/evangelist with Ballygowan Presbyterian Church in County Down and also works as ministry development officer with The Good Book Company. He lives in the country and has been farming every Saturday for more years than he cares to admit.
If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev. Kenny Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 028 9753 1234.