A friend of mine got engaged recently.
I love this season of preparation. Gotta get her ready for her hubby: pre-marital counseling, wedding planning, dress shopping, working out.
Can you imagine if her fiance told her that he wanted to have a ‘surprise’ wedding, (which honestly – is the kind of thing he might do). Imagine her, waking up every day, not sure if this was going to be the day that he just rolled up to her house to pick her up for the wedding. Stress. Full.
I know that there is NO world in which she would become content with this season of engagement.
It has me thinking: do we really believe that Jesus is coming back for us at any minute to make us His bride? Where is our urgency to prepare for His returning; to get ready for our wedding (which could be happening ANY DAY now).
Confession: most days, this place feels more like home to me than the home He’s preparing for me.
This morning I have a different version of me on my mind: a girl who lived 2500 years ago.
Let’s call her Mariah, (cause I love that name and it sounds kind of old timey). Her parents would tell her stories of a different time and a different place and they would call that place ‘home’.
But to her (because she’s like me) – the story of some Queen named Esther feels about as real as the story of Cinderella.
Mariah grows up thinking about the same kind of things you and I think about: daily life, marriage, food, kids, building a life. She watches time pass; her parents die, her family grows.
Then one day, she hears that her people can now return to that ‘home’ her parents used to talk about. It’s time to go back Judah to rebuild the temple.
In real life, when God’s people heard that decree, you know how they reacted?
Without hesitation they came to Judah, by the thousands: mostly those who had never known any home or any life other than Babylon. Within seven months they were all gathered in Jerusalem as one people. Then they laid the foundation of the temple once again, and as they did – they let up a shout of praise so loud that it could be heard far away.
It’s hard for me to understand.
When I imagine made-up-Mariah hearing this decree, I feel like it’s a call to give up everything she’s ever known and trade a place that has been her home and a people who are her friends and community for a place she has never been and a people she has never met to re-build some temple she has never seen.
But in real life – these people spent every day of their lives in one ‘home’ and the whole time they had their hearts knitted up in a different ‘home’.
They banked everything on the promise of God. He had told them He was going to bring them back to Judah, and so they spent their lives waiting and preparing for that.
Guys, Jesus is coming for us.
And He’s coming quickly.
I don’t want to be shocked when the sky parts like a scroll.
I don’t want to be like the Mariah in my head – at home in a place that is not my home.
I want to be ready. I want to shout praises that can be heard far away: God has fulfilled His promise. He is faithful.
I want to read the first few chapters of Ezra over and over again to remind myself: 70 years is really just a few turns of the page in the grand scheme of things; guys, God will do whatever it takes to keep His promises. And the sweet whisper of my Savior is in every turn of the page:
Trust me. I said I was coming, I’m coming.
Make yourself ready.