Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 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? 3 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).
He woke. The evening light could be seen slipping through the various cracks. No longer the direct rays of the sun, but that mysterious glow that hangs on for a few moments even as the last rays of the evening sunlight upon the Mount of Olives. He could hear the sounds of merchants hastily setting up shop for foolish virgins who had only now realized their oil would run out before the evening was spent.
With the help of a servant he changed out of his pajamas, the room wafted with the scent of aloe and myrrh. He folded the head cloth and left it there on the golden limestone bed. Your bed, the bed you made, and the bed he borrowed for a day that he might make it for you. Then he left the cool of the chamber to declare victory over death in the warmer regions of his creation. The chamberlain stayed behind to receive expected guests in the morning, and give them his apologies for not being there himself. Sunday brunch would have to wait.
It’s funny, the bed as a metaphor. “You made your bed, now sleep in it” is a rather callous way to tell someone they have to suffer the consequences of a poor decision. Today, the metaphor gets turned on its head by the former Navy Seal and commander of forces in Afghanistan, Admiral William McRaven. In his new job as self-help guru, he tells us “If you want to change the world, then make your bed.” It’s a rather tall order, to change the world, it is an even taller order if you want to change it for good. In his address to the University of Texas, Austin Admiral McRaven names a few men and women he considers to have changed the world.
Men like General Washington, Lincoln, Mandela… And these people have changed the world to some degree or another, though it strikes me that Washington had a chamberlain that made his bed for him. It also strikes me that the one man who actually changed this world, a man who had greater influence on the men mentioned here than anyone else whether they were aware of it or not, was not on this list. I suppose it makes sense, Admiral McRaven was not there to deliver a sermon. Also, it would not have fit his narrative. The man had no bed.
“And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” – Matthew 8:20
Somehow that verse came to me the other day as I contemplated the different phases of my life in which I made my bed, or just left it. I’ll confess I don’t much like making my bed, but I like laying in a made bed. Can’t stand sleeping in a bed that has been just left after a night of tossing and turning. My bed tends to be a mess in the morning. I don’t so much rest as whirl around like a Tasmanian devil.
This became problematic for me in basic when I’d have to remake my bed every morning within a couple minutes. The hospital corners had to be at a perfect 45, the sheets and blankets pulled so tight you could bounce a quarter off of them. I remember watching a documentary on Seal training and some guys made their beds and then went to a hotel for the night. They made it through because someone else actually made their bed.
I went through Commissioned Officer Training School the same way. I could hardly believe it when they handed me a key to on-base billeting. That’s a hotel on base for guys that are there only temporarily. They have a maid to make your bed. I would get up every morning leaving a pile disordered sheets and blankets with a smile on my face that could only be interpreted as a smirk by the instructors. I did not care how much it bothered them. They reminded me of Gomer Pile in comparison to sergeants Molina and Wilde, my old TIs doing their best impressions of R. Lee Ermy during my Basic Training in ‘94. It was all a joke! My bed was made, and someone else made it!
Yeah, we make our beds and we sleep in them. When it comes to this world, our beds are most often a mess even when we do our best to make them in the morning. If I don’t make my bed every morning, I at least try to be a bit more intentional about Morning Prayer and devotions before writing out a checklist of things to do. That can get out of hand rather quickly—often several items from the day before find their way through the night onto the next day’s list at hand. It can be hard to find rest in the bed I have made for myself.
I suppose that’s the problem. Making a bed comfortable enough to rest in is a never-ending task in this world. Most people have not accomplished it even by retirement. No matter how much planning they have done for tomorrow, they find that today comes well enough with a sufficient amount of trouble that can only be answered by thankfully praying “give us this day our daily bread.”
Yet, there is another bed waiting for us at the end of this day when our earthly troubles are over. It was this bed that Jesus made when He filled the tomb with the scent of aloe and myrrh, carefully folding His head cloth like a pillow for your weary soul. But He only made that bed as a reminder of the bed He prepared for you in His Father’s house with many rooms, many mansions. He left the chamberlain behind to tell us He was not there.
“He has risen, he is not here,” the chamberlain says as he greets the guests. (Mark 16:6) One does not find the living among the dead. No, the living live it up with a smirk in the face of their daily troubles, laughing off the unmade bed and toasting the resurrection with mimosas at Sunday brunch because the Lord has invited them to His feast of salvation and fed them the forgiveness of sins with His body and blood. He did not change the world by making His bed. He changed it by making someone else’s bed. He changed it by making yours.