David and I have spoken often about managing the transition that the two of us are experiencing in this ministry partnership. I think we are doing a good job of it. Tonight I want to share with you the testimony of a man in transition – namely, me. As I mentioned this morning, a bond has been forming between my family and this church. Even before I moved we felt connected and we longed to be with you. And even though I am here NOW, I know that in some ways I am NOT YET here. Up until a week ago I was living in Lake Jackson, Texas, but felt my heart and hope centered in Fort Smith. And NOW I am living in Fort Smith, but my family is NOT YET here. That’s the nature of transition. A reality exists NOW but it is NOT YET realized. It’s like an engagement: a couple is in love and they have a ring and a wedding date NOW, but they are NOT YET married. And if an engagement was as good as a marriage, then it wouldn’t be an engagement, it would be a marriage! Even though there is a relationship NOW it is NOT YET a marriage.

Transitions are tough because we tend to worry a lot during transitions. Consider the transition period of an engagement. As a minister I work with couples engaged to be married and they worry a lot. They worry about things that probably won’t matter after the wedding is over. Maybe it is easier to worry about NOW rather than focus on that which is NOT YET realized. In my own transition with my family in Lake Jackson I admit that I worry about pressing issues NOW because my family is NOT YET here. Transitions between what is NOW and what is NOT YET can be filled with a lot of worry.

I have learned that this transition between two places is a symbol of our existence in this world. As Christians we live between the promises and of God NOW and the things that have NOT YET happened. Jesus was crucified, buried, raised from the dead and he rules even NOW, but he has NOT YET returned to fully realize his rightful rule. We know that even NOW Jesus has defeated the powers of evil, but evil has NOT YET been completely eradicated. So, you can see that even as a church we can get worried even about matters of church and faith ...

John 14:1-3. Three Points: Trust, Truth, Hope

Trust: "Don’t be troubled. Trust in God, Trust also in me."

  1. Jesus’ absence was to the benefit of the early disciples - he left to prepare a place for them.
  2. He did not leave them as orphans, he did not abandon them (v. 18):
    1. He left the Spirit, another Comforter (14:15-17).
    2. He left them peace (14:27).
    3. Trust = they would have to have faith to endure the death and they would need trust and faith to endure the transition between NOW and NOT YET.
  3. My leaving has been especially hard on my youngest son Ethan. He is only five. Sometimes he would say to Karen, "Why is Daddy leaving us?" Friday I sent digital photos of our rent house to Karen. I was in one of the photos and Ethan saw it. He started crying and saying, "That’s what Daddy looks like today."
    1. I spent a lot of time before I left trying to help the boys understand (trying to help myself, too). I wanted Ethan to trust me while I am gone. And one of the things I have said and Karen has said is that I am going to "prepare a house for them." And this experience has helped me realize the truth of the world we live in and the work of Jesus between what is NOW and what is NOT YET. Christ gave us the truth when we said ... [Scripture from John 14].

Truth: "In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so I would have told you."

  1. Truth is, "This World is Not My Home"
    1. Christ is preparing a better home.
    2. Peter says that we don’t worry in this transition world; rather we look forward to a new heaven and earth – the home of righteousness.
  2. C. S. Lewis - "I find within myself a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, which draws me to the conclusion that I was made for another world." – [Why do we give in to worry when it is just as easy to hope?]

Hope: "When everything is ready, I will come back and get you so that you will always be with me where I am."

  1. The Return of Christ:
    1. Unfortunately it has been used as an instrument of fear
    2. Results:
      1. We live timid lives
      2. We have lost a desire for his return
  2. But John regards the Return as a message of HOPE!
    1. The slogan of the early church: (Aramaic) Marana Tha! (1 Corinthians 16:22) "Come soon, O Lord."

I believe that the news of Christ’s return, the news of our Father’s rule can be good news of great hope when we consider the truth and how much we can trust God.

[Illustration: The Day Care Story. We were waiting for our Father’s return. He came to take us home.]

Now if little children can find hope and trust, rather than worry, because of a simple truth like a parent's love, then I think we can find the courage to live faithfully and hopefully in a world that is not our home. He has NOT YET returned, but he is NOW preparing a place for us. There’s room for you in the Father’s house. Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 9 November 2003

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