Recently, ENan and I were invited to participate in a retreat on the coast of Maine, near Acadia National Park. Feeling a need for spiritual renewal, we signed up, hoping to encounter Jesus in a new way.
We chose to drive along the coast on our way to the retreat. We saw wild horses on Maryland islands, fishing fleets in Connecticut, beautiful lighthouses in Rhode Island and cliff walks in Maine. To be honest, ENan and I have never seen a beach we didn’t like but these were some of the most beautiful places we have ever been.
One of our favorite stops was in the hoity-toity town of Newport. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, some of America’s wealthiest families built summer “cottages” here. The most famous of these “cottages” is called The Breakers. It was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II as a little getaway place for his family and guests. It resides on 13 acres overlooking the Easton Bay and has 48 bedrooms! I didn’t even ask how many bathrooms there were to clean.
On seeing this “cottage”, my thoughts went to the place where Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions… I am going to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) Up until last week I had been thinking way too small about this “mansion” Jesus is building for me. If this is a summer cottage, I am trying to imagine what a real mansion could look like!
Another translation of Jesus’ words sounds like this, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…” That presents a different image of heaven to me. Rather than each of us staking claim to our own estate, what if we are all under one roof in the house of our Father. What if the message Jesus is trying to convey is that there are plenty of rooms in His house for all of God’s children.
When our children and grandchildren come to visit, we don’t make reservations for them down the road somewhere. We want them to be in our house. All together. In one place.
I like the idea of all of us being together in God’s house. Just down the hall from Jesus.
By Dr. Jim Baldwin