There was a lovely tradition practiced in Jewish communities when Jesus walked the earth.
After a betrothal and before the final vows, a groom returned to his family home and built an addition to his father’s house in preparation for his bride.
The bride made herself ready and then waited because she didn’t know when her groom would return. What began as hopeful anticipation might sometimes have turned to fear if the groom tarried too long in coming.
But no matter how long it might be, she was expected to maintain that state of hopeful expectation. (The Parable of the Ten Virgins: Matthew 25: 1-13)
What a celebration when he finally showed up, whisked her off and the marriage feast began!
This was the image Jesus evoked when He spoke to His disciples at the Last Supper.
They had questions.
(I can identify.)
They were scared.
They wondered where He was going and what they were supposed to do when He left.
(Yes, we have the Bible but there are lots of day-to-day situations that aren’t covered.)
He didn’t leave them (or me!) without hope for their anxious hearts. And he used familiar images to help them hold onto what He was telling them.
“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am. You know where I am going and you know the road I am going to take.” ~ Jesus to His disciples
John 14: 1-4 PHILLIPS
When a groom left his bride, he wasn’t disappearing for good.
He was going away for a little while to make permanent arrangements for their forever home.
Jesus is the great Bridegroom and the church His Bride. Those of us who love Him, follow Him and wait for Him will not be disappointed!
I may cast off this earthly tent through death or in an instant at His return.
Either way, He’s got a place all ready for me.
Why is waiting so hard?
Does the cultural background to this passage help you understand it? Why or why not?
Is it difficult for you to wrap your mind around the idea that maybe instead of (as suggested in popular culture and some churches) our own private mansion, we might well live in community with others in smaller rooms or additions? How might that alter our behavior here and now toward other believers?
Are you as excited for the Heavenly Wedding and Marriage Supper of the Lamb as you were for your own wedding? Why or why not?
If you listened to the song above, how does it make you feel?
Father God, I’m just going to admit it-waiting is hard! Especially when I don’t know how long I might have to keep waiting. Help me hold onto hope as I look expectantly toward the future You have for me-not only my beautiful Eternal Home but also the earthly future and good works You have prepared in advance for me to do as long as I may live.
Thank You, Jesus, for loving me so well.
You don’t despise our weakness or our questions. Thank You for leaving us with vibrant images that help us imagine (even a little) of what awaits everyone who loves You in the glorious hereafter when every wrong is made right, everything stolen restored and everything lost, redeemed.
I know, know, know in my bones that You do not lie. You cannot fail. I will not be put to shame because I wait on You.
My little congregation is hosting a volunteer team blessing us with a new roof for our leaking sanctuary.
What would have been absolutely impossible if we had to rely totally on our own resources is happening right now!
The week after my daughter’s wedding.
Which means that I am especially exhausted as well as depleted emotionally, mentally and physically.
I’m simply unable to participate like I want to and feel I should.
I’ve brought food up to the church each day but I can’t stay to help serve because my family is still doing leftover wedding tasks. My heart is torn between what I know I have to do and what I would like to do. And it’s impossible to do both.
It’s so much easier for me to extend grace to others in similar situations. I am often the first to say, “Don’t worry about it! We’ve got it covered!”, and mean it. The last thing I want to do for any struggling heart is add to the burden.
Yet here I am, knowing full well that the smart thing, the right thing and really the only thing I can do is accept the same grace from others I’ve extended in the past and I can’t stand it!
I’m pretty sure it’s pride stopping me from admitting my limitations. I’m pretty sure it’s selfish ambition that goads me into trying to finagle a way to be in two places at once. I don’t want to be the one person who didn’t show up all week, meet the volunteers and tell them face-to-face how very much we appreciate them.
How my heart can twist things!
These past six months have been hard ones. Goodness-the past almost two years have been one crisis after another, more travel away from home than in the decade before, more heart-stopping, mind-blowing moments and challenges than any other season since the first year after Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.
And still I will cling to my pride.
I need to accept the abundant, overwhelming, free-flowing and never-ending grace of Jesus.
All the preparation and anticipation meet under a covered outdoor chapel as my daughter and her fiance exchange vows and become one.
By the end of the evening, we will have laughed (and cried!), danced and toasted our way through this very important event.
And they will leave changed in ways they can’t imagine nor fully understand. It takes time to grow into lifelong commitment.
It takes years for singleness to be sanded down to a perfect fit one for the other.
Weddings are fun.
Marriage is work.
My parents have been married for 58 years. My husband and I for nearly 35. None of us has a magic formula for marital longevity. Mostly it’s been leaning into the commitment we made at the altar so many years ago even when it seemed easier to give up and give in.
We’ve all faced so many challenges in our decades together. Some we saw coming and some landed suddenly on top of us without warning. Life, death, moving house, illness, accident, floods, hurricanes, and dozens of smaller crises have forced us to change course, adjust our sails and adapt to new and often unwelcome directions. But we haven’t abandoned ship.
Sometimes it’s been pure grit and determination that see us through. Other times it’s holding on to the good things we’ve shared together.
I’m thankful we are celebrating today.
I’ll be tucking this memory in a safe place where I can pull it out on days that aren’t so beautiful.
It’s my prayer that Fiona and Brandon do the same.
When life gets hard (and it will!) may they remember the promises they made to one another and weather the storms together.
Now this is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother, and is united with his wife; and the two become one flesh.
Our family is looking forward to Spring and also dreading it.
This year we will welcome a new baby (my first grandchild) and also celebrate my daughter’s wedding to a wonderful man.
Our family is growing again!
But we will also mark the fifth year anniversary of Dominic leaving for Heaven and another birthday that he won’t be here to greet.
I’m pretty sure tears will be shed on each of these days and they will be salty-sweet, sad and happy, sorrowful and celebratory-all at once.
There are no more hard lines in my life that separate events into distinct categories where only a single set of emotions is appropriate. Instead my heart’s a watercolor mosaic where one feeling washes into another, darker colors make the lighter ones brighter.
“Even Hobby Lobby reminds me that if I’m remembering anyone at my wedding it should be the family legends of generations past, not current. Somewhere in my carefully- packed boxes of wedding decorations, sits frames and mementos for mine and my fiance’s grandparents and my forever-frozen-in-time 23 year old brother.
I highly recommend you read the whole thing. She’s done a beautiful job sharing from a sibling’s perspective.
Her wedding day will be full of great joy and celebration and also some sorrow as we take pictures of the whole family minus one.
I might be laughing one minute and crying the next.