Often we preachers find ourselves preparing for the next message rather than prioritizing the teaching for our own hearts. It’s not that we mean to do it. It’s just that sometimes the pressure and the responsibility of every week speaking for God to people can make one myopic in terms of getting the sermon done. But every once in a while a passage on which you you planned to speak ambushes you and even while you are formatting the message you know it’s more for you than the people to whom will address. Such was the case for me this past Sunday. We are in a series about Jesus’ last hours from the upper room to the empty tomb and I was speaking on John 14. You probably know the passage as it’s used often in funerals: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.” (John 14:1 NIV)
What is amazing is that Jesus is reaching out in comfort to his disciples when personally circumstances are crashing down around him. He spoke these words just before he crossed the Kidron Valley into the Garden of Gethsemane where events would be unleashed that would lead to his unjust trial and his inhumane death. Amazing! But what came to me while I was preparing the message on these verses was a saying that I once read from Bob Shannon, a great preacher and friend of my father’s. He once wrote: “There are two kinds of hearts: troubled hearts and trusting hearts.”
Certainly hearts are troubled by many things. So, I began to describe some of those “things” in my message: grief, loneliness, financial hardship, disease, relationships ending, and then I wrote the next phrase: uncertain future. I literally stopped typing and looked at those words. For some reason they literally seemed larger than the other ones and I read them again with dread. You see, that’s where I am. I have an uncertain future. Now, all of us don’t know what tomorrow will bring but my situation is a little more immediate. I won’t bore you with the details but in a very short time I will be unemployed and in this economy getting a job in ministry is not at all an easy task. I admit I let my emotions take over and I immediately fell prey to “what if.” What if I don’t find a job quickly? What if our money runs out? What if I can’t pay my rent? What if, what if? And then it hit me. Those were the questions of a troubled heart not a trusting heart. I shouldn’t really be surprised. If the guys that were personally around Jesus for 3 1/2 years had to be told not to have troubled hearts it’s probably because they did! And if they had them then it’s pretty normal for my heart to be troubled. But here’s the thing. I really don’t want to stay there. I want to heed Jesus’ words: “DO NOT let your heart be troubled.”
So I began discussing this with Jesus and went back to his words in John 14:1. There I saw, or more accurately I believe he lead me, to a couple of things that helped me during this time so I wanted to share them with you.
First, Jesus is saying I don’t have to keep a troubled heart. I don’t have to be anxious about my uncertain future, I can control whether I am blown by every wind of circumstance. My emotions are not out of my control. While I don’t have to feel guilty for feeling this way (I’m back to looking at the disciples who apparently felt this way from time to time) I don’t have to stay there. Why?
That’s the second thing: I’ve got help. Jesus. He says, “You trust God right? Then trust me.” In other words, “Tim, do you believe in God?” Yes. How can anyone see a sunset, or watch a seed grow or see a newborn baby without believing there is a God? Yes I believe in God. Jesus says, “Then you can believe and trust in me.” And then it was almost if as if I could hear him say, “Tim, look at vs:2.” That’s when I realized that Jesus was taking me much further into the future than just my next ministry. He says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) l I found myself, as I read that verse, physically nodding and my troubled heart became a trusting heart. Because while the immediate future may be hazy and indistinct, the ultimate future is absolutely certain! Ultimately I am going home – home to the Father’s house. And that means while He’s preparing me a place “up there” He’s also providing for me down here. I absolutely trust him to do that and one day, no matter what happens here, I’ll be with Him in the Father’s house.
Two kinds of hearts: troubled hearts and trusting hearts – which one are you?