Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. -John 14:1-3
This is a story about how kind God is. It’s also about how old age comes in like a wrecking ball, and about the 1980s scifi movie Cocoon. Obscure? Yes. Awesomely retro? Absolutely.
Sometime during my childhood, I saw that movie. I don’t remember much about it, except that it was about elderly people who were rejuvenated to youth and health by some kind of alien-energized water in a pool.
I really couldn’t relate to this narrative back then. After all, I hadn’t even reached middle school yet, much less middle age.
We rented this movie on VHS from the video rental store near my house. This was during that bygone era of the 1980s, before Blockbuster video existed, back when we were all delighted with the new luxury of watching movies at home whenever we wanted. (Video killed the radio star, then streaming media tried to kill art in general. But I digress.) Gather ‘round, young ones, and imagine a time when streaming television was science fiction and the greatest tech revolution was that some guy named Mitch bought a few hundred VHS movies and rented them to us.
Back then, sitting on our shaggy brown carpet, watching our not-flat-screen TV that RCA housed in a lovely oaken box, I did not wrestle with the dilemma these grey-haired people in Cocoon faced: How do we deal with aging? But now that I’m over forty, I find myself thinking about them quite a lot. Because:
- I have a prescription for bifocal glasses that I keep refusing to fill.
- I google “neck cream” at least once a week.
- I’ve colored my hair dark only to discover that my roots are growing in blonde AND GREY.
- I have a newfound appreciation for “sensible shoes”.
- I take an awful lot of vitamins that are good for my joints.
Also, my back aches when I wake up in the morning. It could be that our cheap IKEA mattress is showing its low quality of craftsmanship. It could also be that my spine is over forty years old and the warranty is a bit expired.
In church on Sunday, my achy-breaky back was bugging me, so I prayed a simple prayer for a new mattress. Our budget doesn’t allow of this purchase right now, so I figured my best course of action was #Jesus4theWin.
That night I slept terribly, and the next day Morgan and I texted back and forth about our cheapest options for a new mattress. Amazon has some decent looking options, but the thought of ordering a mattress without ever lying on it was not particularly inviting.
But then, the clouds in my dreary sky parted, and I found the top-rated mattress on Amazon listed for $4.51. I’m smart enough to know a good deal when I see one, and getting a mattress for 99% off was clearly the way to go. After I clicked the purchase button, that beauty was ours.
A mattress for less than $5 seems too good to be true. I really hope it lives up the reviews. But I realize it could be an awful mattress. It it could also give us the dreamiest sleep we’ve had in years. Who knows? It cost less than a venti latte from Starbucks. This bed cost us less than a cheeseburger from our favorite burger place, Mighty Fine. I don’t even have a category in my brain for this experience.
But I know this online purchase is a tiny drop in the bucket of God’s deep kindness toward His children. It’s an Amazon listing that became a glimpse of how simple it is for Jesus to use our problems as wicks in the candles of our souls. These tiny flames light our way home.
You can go look for this deal yourself, but you won’t find it. An hour after I made my purchase, the price was back to normal. I can’t explain any part of this story, but I can tell you that my heart is braver and bolder in hope and faith this week.
Even so, there’s no template for how God will answer my next needy prayer.
God isn’t a vending machine or a genie in a bottle. He rarely comes to us the same way twice. But every time He comes and touches us with His resurrective power, we are never the same again. It isn’t the miracle of His touch I cry out for today, as much as the kindness behind the outstretched hand.
Our hearts are wired to need the love and kindness in of God. We want a formula for how faith works, but there is no formula. We want magical water like the movie Cocoon offered its characters. Where is the pool that will heal all the rotten diseases that plague our bodies and souls, we ask.
Well, there is no magical water, dear one.
There are only the outstretched arms of Jesus enduring the cross for our sake and our lives bowed before Him. There are our desperate prayers for miracles, and our lowly souls singing “It is well” when the miracles seem to be waiting on the other side of eternity. There is today, which (thankfully) is almost over, and there is heaven rolled out before us like a gorgeous bed of glory.
My grey hair and poor eyesight are signs that I am getting a little closer to the day I will be ushered into that eternity. I don’t care what our youth-obsessed culture says about turning back the hands of time. I want every wrinkle and achy joint, because they’re breadcrumbs along the path of my journey home.
One day, I’ll leave behind the troubles of this world just like we left behind wood-cased televisions, VHS rental stores, and the shaggy brown carpet. We’ll trade this weary world for the best deal we’ve never deserved: an eternity with God.
Even Amazon can’t compete with that.