I apologize if it seems all I write about any more is my wedding. It’s consumed my thoughts and thus my writing. That said, I’m going to talk about it some more.
A week from today, I’ll be getting married. A year ago at this time, I was dealing with the emotions of realizing that it was going to be at least a year before I got married. At first, it made me upset. I was finally engaged, and now I had to wait some more?!
It made me angry, and a little bit sorry for myself. I’d long ago learned that complete honesty in prayer with the Lord was better than half-hearted but religious platitudes. At the time, I couldn’t pray that He would make me happy to wait. I just couldn’t.
So instead, I prayed that the longing I felt to be married to Clay would teach my heart what it really means to long for Jesus’ return.
If that seems like a non-sequitar, let me explain;
Throughout the Bible, God’s relationship with his people is depicted as being like that of a husband and a wife.
In the very beginning, in Genesis, it is said that God created humans, both men and women, “in the image of God,” meaning that they, at their very essence, reflect key things about who God is and what He is like. Man is made first, and then women is created for man, to be his mate.
“The man said ‘This [woman] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’for she was taken out of man.’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” – Genesis 2:32,24:
Later, God continually refers to himself as a “husband” to his chosen people, Israel.
““In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband'; you will no longer call me ‘my master.'” (Hosea 2:16)
“For your Maker is your husband– the LORD Almighty is his name” -(Isaiah 54:5)
“”Return, faithless people,” declares the LORD, “for I am your husband.” (Jer 3:14 )
In the New Testament, the references continue, now with Jesus being referred to as the “bridegroom” to his faithful people. Paul even goes so far as to say that the major reason that God created marriage like He did was to provide us with a living picture of himself;
” ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery – but I am saying it refers to Christ and the church.” – Ephesians 5:31,32
Finally, the references conclude in the final book of the Bible, Revelations. In this book, the future return of Jesus is described as “wedding” – where the Groom, Jesus, will finally, once and for all, be fully united to the people who have chosen to love Him – His Bride, the Church. (Revelation 19, 21)
This picture has long been one of my favorites. It brings tears to my eyes to imagine the day when Jesus returns;
A triumphant Groom, the long, weary battle won, comes to claim His radiant bride and take her away to live with Him forever.
But for now, we live in the waiting period. As His church, we are engaged to Him – but the final marriage hasn’t come yet. And it is oh-so-hard.
I know that feeling.
I’ve been engaged for over 14 months now. I understand what it means to wait. Fortunately, God has been kind to me, and I actually really enjoyed the majority of my engagement. In fact, I often wished it would slow down – I was comfortable being engaged. Liked it, actually. I didn’t see the need to hurry my wedding! Sometimes, in the middle of all the “engagement” and wedding planning activities, I would forget I was even getting married! But still, I often prayed that it would teach me what it meant to really long for Jesus’ return. And for most of my engagement, I felt like that prayer went unanswered. In the past two weeks, though, something changed.
Two weeks ago, I moved home to begin working on support and finish up wedding details, while Clay stayed behind in Athens to work. Of course, I miss him terribly. And somewhere, in the middle of that, my heart started to shift.
This past week, I’ve acutely felt the longing just to be with Clay. I want my wedding to hurry up and get here – not because I want to wear a pretty dress, or put my hair up, or even to celebrate with loved ones – but because my wedding will mean he’ll be here, with me. I’ll be able to not just hear him – but see him. Touch him. Be with him. And I won’t have to say goodbye.
That’s what it means to long for Jesus’ return.
So often, we get trapped up in the insignificant and the momentary, we lose sight of the eternal. We get comfortable on this earth – enjoy it even. We occupy ourselves with things, good things even – family, church, ministry, jobs – and forget what we’re really waiting for.
How often have you heard someone say, (or perhaps even said it yourself) “I’m not ready for Jesus to come back, I haven’t (insert unfulfilled desire here) yet,” ?
What silliness! What bride should say, “I’m not ready for my wedding, I haven’t cleaned the grout in my bathroom yet,”?!?
None of the things we think we’re waiting for could be better than spending eternity in Heaven with the God who loves us more than any groom has ever loved any bride.
I don’t long for Jesus’ return the way I should. I don’t ache for Heaven with the intensity and the fervor that I should. And this side of Heaven, I probably never will.
But in this gift of my year-long engagement, I have learned a little bit how I ought to. A little more of my heart everyday is learning to cry, “Maranatha! – Come, Lord Jesus, Come!”
Yes – Come, Lord Jesus, Come.