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“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. — Revelation 19:6-8
There was no time to lose. Ann Hardin’s husband would be home from Iraq soon for environmental leave (R&R), and before he arrived, she had work to do! She lost weight, got in shape and treated herself to her first pedicure. She stocked the kitchen with all his favorite foods and got her household in order just for the moment he walked in the door. She even planted flowers, which was no small feat in May in Anchorage, Alaska.
As Ann prepared herself and her household for her reunion with her husband, something else dawned on her. “Through all the things I wanted to get ready for my husband, my earthly bridegroom, the Lord showed me how much more I need to be getting ready for my heavenly bridegroom,” she says. “The love and longing I have for my husband, I should have for my Lord.”
God wants to mean more to us than merely our Creator. By assuming the names of Bridegroom (Nymphios) and Husband (Aner), Jesus reveals the kind of intimate relationship He desires to have with us, His Bride. When He was born into this fallen world, He was leaving His Father’s house to dwell among us. Christ offers Himself as our provider and protector, and has vowed His faithfulness and love to us not just “till death do us part,” but forever.
In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus tells the parable of ten virgins holding a night vigil for the bridegroom. When the five who ran out of oil for their lamps went to get more, the bridegroom came for those who were prepared. The story ends with, “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour:” (Matthew 25:113)
In Praying the Name of Jesus, Ann Spangler offers this “spiritual preparedness kit” so that we can be like the wise virgins in the parable:
- Repent daily (Matthew 3:2).
- Get caught serving (Matthew 25:14-30).
- Be quick to forgive (Matthew 18:23-32).
- Never let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:25-27).
- Pray always (I Thessalonians 5:17).
- Give thanks in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18).
- Be generous to the poor (Luke 12:33-34)
- Remember, no matter what, that God is faithful (I Corinthians 10:12,13).
- Link your life with other believers (I Corinthians 12:12-27).
Hopefully, we will always be devoted to our husbands on this earth, whether they are present or absent from our homes. But just as Ann poured herself into preparing herself for her husband’s homecoming, let us be faithful to prepare ourselves for our meeting with our Heavenly Bridegroom as well.
Pray: Help me begin to fathom the depths of Your love for me as my Heavenly Bridegroom and Husband. May I daily seek to be worthy of such an honor by preparing my heart and mind with spiritual truths and disciplines. While my marriage is a gift from You, remind me that I can find true intimacy in my relationship with You.
Questions to Share:
1. Am I more concerned with my relationship with my earthly husband or my Heavenly Bridegroom?
2. What areas of my spiritual life need to be worked on before I can consider myself a prepared bride?
Jocelyn Green is an award-winning freelance writer and author of Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives (www.faithdeployed.com), from which this devotional was re-posted with permission from Moody Publishers. She is also the co-author of Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan. She and her husband Rob live with their two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa.