Brides and Grooms

I had the privilege to attend the wedding of one of my very good friends recently. This wedding is her second and she has finally, I believe, found her other half. He is a really great guy, from everything I have seen; and, they certainly deserve every happiness God can afford them.

So I’m at the wedding, sitting close to the front. The wedding starts and the groomsmen come in to wait on my friend, the bride. Then I remember my pastor saying that in every wedding he does, he looks at the groom while everyone else is looking at the bride as she enters the room. I figure why not try it myself. I’ve seen what my friend looks like. I watched some of her pictures be taken after I helped set up the reception hall.

When everyone stands to see my friend enter, I turn and look at her husband to be. I can tell the exact moment he gets his first look at her. His face turns bright pink; he bites his lip and closes his eyes. For a moment, he looks like he is either going to throw up or pass out. But when he recovers! He recovers and his face is filled with a love and pride I haven’t seen on any face other than my husband’s in a very long time.

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Then, it hits me. All through the Bible, God and Jesus are referred to as the Bridegroom of the nation of Israel and later all believers. Notable examples are Isaiah 62:5 and John 3:29. And all the times I have studied those verses I have concentrated on myself being the bride of Christ and preparing myself for Him. I mean I’m a woman; and, I was a bride about … years ago. (wink.) What is it like to be on the other side of that? What was it like for my now husband to wait for me? Does Jesus wait with bated breath, so to speak, for the time to come where he gathers those that believe in him to Heaven? Is he going to have a similar look on his face when that time comes and the living and the dead in him are caught up in the air?

I think so. I believe he is longing for us just as much, if not more so, than we are longing for him. He knows what is prepared for us in Heaven. He knows what it is going to be like when those who believe in him are all together in praise and worship. We don’t have that knowledge. We can only guess. And we’ve already been told that God does more ‘than we can ask or imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20).

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So, as I watch my friend approach her groom, relief builds on his face that they are actually together and will be until death. I take a moment to be thankful for my earthly groom of 18 years and for my heavenly groom still waiting for his ‘bride’ to be complete and ready for a time that is beyond death.

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Defiance and defiance …

PLEASE REMEMBER: My opinions are my own. Agree, or disagree. But be nice regardless.

So I’ve started watching the new SyFy series Defiance. They give us this synopsis: In the year 2046, it’s a new Earth – with new rules. Over thirty years after various alien races arrived on Earth, the landscape is completely altered, terraformed nearly beyond recognition. To the town of Defiance, on what used to be St. Louis, comes the mysterious Nolan (Grant Bowler) and his charge, Irisa (Stephanie Leonidas). As they settle into town – overseen by the mayor, Amanda Rosewater (Julie Benz) and filled with residents like the powerful Rafe McCawley (Graham Greene), enterprising lounge owner Kenya (Mia Kirshner) and the ambitious, alien Tarrs (Tony Curran and Jaime Murray) – events begin to unfold that threaten the fragile peace this border town has fought for.

In a recent episode, one of the Castithans (an alien race) is being tortured, presumably to death, because he fled a fire fight. This was part of a ritual that the Castithans hold in high regard as part of their religion. A ritual that hurt no one outside their religion. Then that ritual was disrupted by Irisa, someone outside that religion. The person being tortured was cut down from his torture despite his protestations and despite the government condoning the action.

That got me thinking.

I am a Christian. It is my religion. It is my way of life. In my worldview, I see the world being tortured to death by their own choices, even if those choices are hurting no one else but them. My task as a Christian is to cut as many people down as I can (Matt. 28:19). In my worldview it is the moral thing to do, just like Irisa thought it was the right thing to do for the Casthian. When I go to do it. When I speak about Jesus and what salvation offers, I am met with resistance just like Irisa. I just can’t sit by and let people live through eternity without knowing Jesus.

Thing is, when Irisa imposed her will on another way of life, she was lauded by others. Even in real life, her actions will be seen as right and honorable. I, however, am called closed-minded, a bigot and intolerant. And I have done nothing different. All I have done is try to rescue someone who was being tortured, and am met with apathy or anger by those I am trying to rescue or even the government.

Yes, Defiance is a fictional show. Yes, the characters are not real. But actions like this happen every day. So why is it when morals I feel are not right are pressed on me it’s called tolerant and progressive; yet, when I choose to express my morals and beliefs, they are shut down and seen as archaic and intolerant? My best answer comes from 1 Corinthians ” What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” (1 Cor 2:12-14)

Just something to think about a bit. Again, agree or disagree. It’s OK by me, but if you comment let’s talk about what I said and not get into name calling.

A Dead Person Breathing

Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing one of the best Christian singer-songwriters I have ever had the pleasure of hearing live – Andrew Peterson. His music rivals my other favorite, Rich Mullins, for its depth of meaning and beauty of language. Even the circumstances of this most recent concert were fun and cool at the same time. The concert was originally scheduled to be at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park. Then, because of weather, the venue changed to the sponsoring church. At Levitt Shell, there is plenty of space for people to bring their picnics and lawn chairs to listen to whomever is playing on stage. So, even though the concert moved into a ballroom looking fellowship hall, everyone still brought their blankets and picnics to watch Andrew Peterson. Danger Boy and I were front and center for the concert and laughed when Andrew Peterson said the this the strangest concert he had ever performed in his career.

This concert was also held on Easter Saturday. So he played all the songs he knew from his catalog that were Easter related. After a few, he said something that I’m still thinking on and marveling at the imagery. He said that on Friday they laid a dead body in the tomb and on Sunday morning ‘that dead body took a breath.’

That image had stuck with me ever since. I went to bed that night tossing around questions, like:

What did it feel like those two nights between Friday and Sunday? I know what happens when we, as humans, die. But how long was Jesus forsaken by God? Was he without his presence the whole weekend? Or was he in the presence of God immediately after death? I know creeds that say he was in hell. But was he really?

What did it feel like when it was time for him to go back into his earthly body, even if it was for only 40 days. Excitement? Dread? Relief?

When he did open his eyes, how long did he have to wait before the women showed up? Was he thinking of ways to reveal himself? Not in a practical joke or silly way, but in a way that would send them running back to the Apostles.

I know the details of his resurrection aren’t important, just something to stretch my mind, because they aren’t enumerated in the Bible. What matters is that he did come back to be the first-born of the dead and be the resurrection and the life for all who choose to believe.

A quick view of grief

My first love has been gone 9 years today. The man who loved me no matter how crazy I got. The man I stood beside no matter how far down the bottle he crawled.  My dad was certainly one of a kind.

The dense fog this morning felt like it was just for me. It felt like insulation, or a dampener, for the inevitable yearly removal of the scab of his absence. It came a little later this year, gratefully. I had spent some time working for others – a sure way to relieve troubles of your own. And in the quiet of going home it hit me, “Today is the 22nd. Today is the 22nd.” So, through a mist closer than the one forming on my windshield, I make it home to spend the day.

Does time make the grief go away? Obviously not. Does time make it easier to get through? Some years.

I do have the assurance I will see him when I, too, leave this life. And while I’m here I have the assurance that God is watching out in particular for people like me:

Sing to God, sing praise to his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds
his name is the Lord—
    and rejoice before him.
 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling. (Psalm 68:4-5, link from Biblegateway.com)