“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14
My fiancé and I live about 2.5 hours away from each other. It’s terrible. I miss everything about him when he’s not around; I miss his arm around me, his sweet smile, the love in his eyes, my hand in his…the list could go on, but I’ll spare you. Thankfully, he has to drive in for classes every Tuesday so I get to see him at least once a week. On the days when we can’t see each other, we text and talk on the phone and think about each other all day long. It’s ridiculous. You’d think we were in love or something.
This time of engagement is hard, but good. My feelings toward the man I’m going to marry are actually not that unfamiliar to me. They are reminiscent of a spiritual reality—echoes of my inner spirit’s longing to see Jesus face to face…to see His smile, to feel His embrace, to hear His laugh and look into His eyes of love and power. Our long distance relationship is also full of “texts and calls” by way of prayer, and sometimes I experience His closeness like being in His very presence. There is nothing like it and nothing that I desire more…I long to be with Him.
And just like with any relationship, communication and effort are essential. If I’m not cultivating and tending to my heart’s love and affection for Christ then the feelings start to fade. I’m not advocating that feelings are the most important but they are important. Feelings can be affected by the food you eat or the thoughts that cross your mind, so basing your faith on them is unwise, but tending to our feelings and stirring them up through loving actions and grand thoughts is wise and good.
Recently, it’s been a struggle finding time to be alone with God. I can claim the excuse of busyness—and with a full time job, teaching opportunities, wedding planning, major events every other weekend, trying to keep up with housekeeping, spending time with my fiancé and not losing all my friends, there may be something to it—but it’s still just an excuse. I can’t do any of it on my own. I need time to refuel, recharge and rekindle. I need time with Jesus. I can feel it in my spirit. My soul is like a deer in the desert land panting for water (Psalms 42 & 63). I’m wasting away. I need to get my priorities turned back around. If I’m not loving Christ with my whole heart, I’m not loving anyone well.
“When I have learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. Insofar as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.” – C.S. Lewis
Am I longing for Christ’s return like I’m longing for the day of my wedding? Is His blessed appearance as joyful a thought as the day I join my life to the man I love? Am I putting as much effort into preparing myself for that wonderful day as I am for the one in December? I want to say yes and I hope to say yes in the future, but right now I have to confess that I am not. But that doesn’t change His grace and patience or the unchangeable fact that He will return for His Bride one day. It would be wise to make ourselves ready and long for His appearing. Because that Day will bring quite a Wedding! You’re not going to want to miss that Feast.
“Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9