‘Don’t let your hearts be troubled,’ is what he said. ‘Trust in God. Trust also in me. My Father’s house has plenty of room.’
This is what Jesus told his friends. That he was going to get things ready. That he’d come back to get his friends when things were all set. He’d have to go away for a while. This, after all, was no small project. But at the right time he’d come back. And his friends would somehow know the way to find him.
Thomas, always one for questioning, said no, it wasn’t so, that they didn’t know what Jesus was talking about or what was really happening. Things were too muddy. Too unclear. ‘How can we know the way when we have no idea of where you’re even going?’
This is the story. Our story. It’s the story that has unfolded in Hamilton in the last week, the story of the disappearance, and now we know, murder of Timothy Bosma, an unassuming and faithful husband and father who, as it is, worked in the home industry, a man who was prayed for in one way or another by thousands of people in this community and across the country.
‘Timothy is dead,’ is how my nine-year-old daughter, Liz, put it when I got home last night. I said that I knew and we talked about it and we prayed again for the Bosma family.
Soon after, we all went to bed like we always do, another day completed, another sunrise and sunset, a new day soon to start with the same routine – eat, school, work, play, sleep. This is it, over and over with some variation, the story that any of us have.
The doubters will say it is a meaningless story, as meaningless as prayers that don’t go past the living room ceiling. There is nothing more, they say, and to all appearances on many days they seem right.
Those doubters still get up every morning, regardless, out of fear as much as anything, because we all know more than ever now that one might be murdered before lunch or, if that doesn’t happen, we will still die like a single long-drawn breath over the span of whatever time we’re handed.
I was reminded of this shortly before Liz and I prayed for the Bosma family. My wife and I had just been out of town visiting a friend of some years, a cancer victim, a jaundiced woman as yellow as a falling leaf, sitting in a corner chair in a small room in her home.
We knew this would be the last time we would ever see her, and she did too, and she smiled and talked matter-of-factly about her children, that they would move from another city to live in her house after she died. We hugged her and my wife cried and on a certain level I found it all rather unremarkable.
Because, like Timothy Bosma, this woman knew that there is more than this tired, old world and that her passing would be just a sort of moving up more than anything, that another home awaited her in a neighbourhood more upscale than she could ever dream of.
She didn’t worry about finding the way. She had already somehow found it. And she knew that in the end she’d have to be carried the rest of the way, anyway, not unlike how a young and beautiful bride is carried across the threshold. ‘We’re home, now’ the groom says to her. ‘This is it. Do you like it?’
She looks around. She can’t say a word. It’s beyond words. Her heart is not troubled in this moment. It will never be troubled again because time itself no longer exists.
‘How do we get there?’ Thomas asked Jesus. It’s not a bad question. Jesus never criticized his friend for it. He knew that Thomas was a man of questions more than he was a perpetual doubter per se, and that asking plenty of questions helped build his faith.
Jesus simply answered him, ‘You get there by opening your eyes, by looking at what is in front of you. Look at me. Stop worrying. Look at my Father’s house. Really look at it. It’s not even finished yet and already the world’s most beautiful mansions look like garbage dumps beside it. Don’t put your future in them. Put it here, with me. Put it here, right here, in this place.’
This is the house, the real dream house, the house that will somehow last forever.
This is the house that Timothy Bosma is now helping to build. Don’t look for him anywhere else anymore. He’s gone. He’s busy in that other place. Busy with other things. Big things.
It is a time to mourn, a time for the Bosma family and Timothy’s close friends to mourn like no other time. We cry with them. This community will never be the same.
But what then?
This is what he says. No, don’t let your heart be troubled.