Growing up as the youngest of three children, I never did fancy myself as a baby-sitter. But one night during my senior year in high school, I responded to the call of duty when two of my little cousins needed someone to watch them while their parents rushed to the hospital to deliver their soon-to-be baby brother. I got to my post just in time to tuck the little guys into bed and give my uncle permission to hurry back to the delivery room. Easy peasy…or so I thought.
A few minutes into my physics homework, I was surprised to see my cousin Nico standing at my side, quietly looking up at me. Probably just six or seven years old at the time, he whispered, “I want to see daddy.” I smiled back, assured him that his dad would return in the morning, and walked him back to bed. “Good night, Nico.” No crying, no arguing, no problem. But just a few minutes later, Nico was back. Same quiet position, same heartfelt request: “I want to see daddy.” It really was cute…the first three times. But after visit number four, I was getting a little impatient. He clearly knew what he wanted, and he clearly didn’t care for my line of reasoning that the sooner he fell asleep, the sooner he’d see his father. No such luck.
Nico wanted his dad’s presence sooner than that, and he wouldn’t stop until he hastened his loved one’s return.
I ended up calling the hospital so Nico could talk with his dad. A few quiet words and a big smile later, my cousin hung up the phone and walked himself back to bed. My uncle came home within the next twenty minutes to satisfy a little boy’s longings to be with his father.
A LONG AWAITED REUNION
Over the last two months, I’ve found myself in a similar state of heart — wanting to speed up the return of our Beloved, longing for reunion with our Savior Jesus Christ. Especially in difficult seasons of loss, the things of this world grow strangely dim, and we’re reminded again that this world really is not our home. The three-word petition inserted in the Lord’s prayer has summed up much of the groaning of my heart lately:
Thy kingdom come…
Matthew 6:10 (KJV)
HERE COMES THE BRIDE
Recently, I’ve found great comfort in the picture of the new heavens and a new earth in Revelation 21. I encourage you to read it again for yourself, to let a sense of awe and anticipation for what lies ahead be rekindled in your heart. And as you do, maybe you’ll be struck as I was by the imagery used to describe this climactic hope. As John is about to be shown what the New Jerusalem will look like, an angel says, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife" (Rev. 21:9, NKJV).
Did you catch it? The coming of God’s kingdom is couched in wedding language. Why?
Because more than establishing His rule, God is intent upon enjoying relationship.
When we pray for God’s kingdom to come, we’re seeking more than entrance into a place, we’re seeking reunion with a Person, Jesus Christ. The wedding motif is perfect representation for the blessed hope. Just like a wedding, Jesus’ return is not only eagerly anticipated but also joyously celebrated. According to Palestinian wedding tradition, a betrothed couple experienced a period of separation during which the soon-to-be husband would prepare a home for his bride. Once all the preparations were in order for their new life together, the groom would return, pick up his bride, and process all the way home for a great celebration.
I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE
This is the kind of eager anticipation that filled the heart of Jesus as He spoke with His disciples just hours before being arrested, tried, and crucified:
Let not your heart be troubled…I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14:1-3, NKJV
The heaven-sent groom is sweet-talking His bride! When John hears the resurrected Jesus say “Behold I come quickly” in Revelation 22:20, it’s not supposed to be a threat. It’s the promise of a groom who is doing all He can not only to prepare a place for His people but to prepare a people for that place.
Jesus is looking forward to receiving His bride. The question is, are we looking forward to that day? It’s a question worth asking everyday, but especially so as this October marks 175 years since the Great Disappointment of 1844. If we find that our hope has been tested and tried, let’s pray that God would rekindle in us that blessed hope, that we would be filled with eager anticipation not just of the rule of God but of reunion with God, that He would keep making us a people who are “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Pet. 3:12, NKJV)?