“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2,3 KJV)
It is interesting to look back and see the size of the cultural shift since words like this were common. It was a tradition that the groom would go to prepare a place for his bride and then one day return with much fan fair to get her. This obviously involved a great deal of trust between the couple. A trust both in regards to faithfulness in the other’s absence and in patience mixed with preparedness in anticipation of the day when they were to begin the marriage. The excitement was set with the expectancy of what the groom was preparing so the eternity of a very long life together could begin. Today it seems that it’s not so much the long life together that is anticipated, but rather the perfection of the arrangements of the specific day on which the marriage is to take place. It is the bride that sets countless plans for a church, a dress, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the decorations, who is to be invited (or not invited), and dozens of other items such that the only thing that is expected of the groom is that he somehow makes it there on time, is relatively sober, and says “I do” at the right time. Today the bride manages the details to a meticulous point and reflects very little to no surrender in regard to what the groom is preparing for her and for the life that they are about to enjoy together.
It tends to be the same with the Church today. We try to manage every detail of when Jesus needs to return, what He needs to do when He comes back, who is going to be at the wedding banquet (and who is not), what everyone must do, say, and think. I think the earlier picture of where we look at Jesus with wonder, awe, and surrender to what He has planned for us, when it will happen, and with whom we will experience it has so much more value. It is then that we enjoy the life that He has given us. It is then that we are the most effective witnesses. It is then that we are most able to communicate with those around us the joy and the peace and the love that we have yet to more fully experience. It is also then that we are most concerned with our faithfulness to Jesus and least concerned with managing those around us while still being quick to present them with the same invitation that we received.
Yet, even more revealing is what takes place during the betrothal period (of at least nine months) when He does not appear to be “with” her. This effectively is a time to validate the couples purity to both each other and to the immediately surrounding community. Sometimes when ugly or overwhelmingly destructive things happen around us it causes some to question, “Where is God?” The more insightful question is said with the understanding that the groom is never far away from is bride, “Where is the bride and what is she going to do?” When tragedy strikes and we feel that anything but God’s will has been done on Earth as it is supposed in Heaven, we instinctively shake our fist or question within about the groom’s presence. However, if the groom legitimately wants to know (or reveal for others to see) the contents of His bride’s heart, then it is logical that He may step back for a moment to see if she will roll up her sleeves and also be about the Father’s business. From time to time we may have legitimate “why” questions of God. These questions should never prevent us from the immediate task at hand of care for those who have been hurt, feeding those who are hungry, highlighting what God’s word says even when no one is interested, and learning to love the very enemies that cause so much pain while understanding that it is God who will execute vengeance should there be no repentance. This is where the bride’s faithfulness can shine so brightly even if the unbeliever is still stuck on waiting for God to show up while His bride is all ready there. It is no wonder the unbeliever is so likely to miss God; they cannot even understand the bride which is right there among them. It is also a reminder for the bride to keep sufficient oil for her lamp as at some point, even at the darkest point of the night, the groom will return.
“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” (Luke 14:23, 24 KJV)