Thursday, October 2, 2014

Once Upon a Time...in Revelation

[The following was originally written as the introduction to one of our recent messages in Revelation. I offer it again here as a reminder and encouragement to all of us as the series comes to its close, and because we all need to remember the grand love story we all live in!] 

Once upon a time there was a handsome prince, who was his Father’s pride and joy. The handsome Prince was not just handsome, but good--as good as any prince could ever be. In the course of events, the Prince (as often happens in such stories) fell in love. It was not with a princess, or even the most beautiful of young women. He loved a very unlikely girl—one whose bad qualities, at least as far as anyone could see, were much more numerous than her good ones. If you were to see her, and hear her, and watch her, you would probably say, “What does he see in her?” But whatever it was, he saw it. He loved her. And because of his love, no sacrifice was too great to make to have her as his own.

Something magical began to happen (as often happens in such stories). The more he loved her, and the more she realized it, the more she began to change. Slowly at first, and not always easily, her harsh words and bad attitudes began to fade. Though at first she had seen the Prince as only another man, she began to see just how good he was—how kind, how patient, and how forgiving for the ways she treated him. She began to sound less like herself, and more like him when she spoke. The hardness of her looks at others softened to match his kind smile. Without really understanding how it happened, she was shocked to realize that she loved the Prince.

Now as with any good love story, there was problem, and the problem involved villains. There were many others around who thought it was wrong that the Prince loved only this one undeserving maiden.  Not only were they jealous, they were incensed that someone no better than they might marry into such wealth and power as came with being the wife of the Prince. They began to disparage the Prince when they talked to her, and they mocked her among themselves. Mockery and disparagement turned eventually to open anger, and even attack. The young woman who had once fit in with everyone else now found herself ostracized, criticized, and finally victimized by increasingly violent threat and action. It became worse when these enemies realized the Prince was away doing the business of his Father, the King. Her life was now in grave danger.

But though he was away, the Prince was not unaware of what was going on. Until he could come back to her, he asked his Father to send whatever help his beautiful love needed, and his Father was only too happy to do so. By all sorts of means that involved last minute rescues and unexpected escapes, the young maiden found herself safe time and time again. But how she now wanted the Prince to return. And oh how he wanted to return and take her to be his bride. 

Finally, the Prince was enabled to come back to his Father and his Father told him, "it’s time." And it was just in time. His love’s enemies had come together and were ready to capture and kill her, and unless she was rescued, it seemed, they would do just what they planned. The Prince, though known for his kindness, was also not one to have his fiancĂ©e trifled with, let alone attacked.  His smile could melt a heart, but his anger—well, no one could stand up to it. And none of his enemies did as he arrived in just the nick of time, rescued his true love, and whisked her away from all her enemies and brought her to his home. There, to her amazement and surprise, all had been prepared and a wedding was about to begin. Her wedding. She would have her Prince forever. And she who had begun life as no one in particular would, as the bride of the Prince, live happily ever after.

The story of Revelation is many things, but one thing we sometimes forget is that it is the culmination of a love story—the story of Jesus and his love for his bride, the Church. “From heaven he came and sought her, to be his holy bride. With his own blood he bought her, and for her life, he died.”He didn’t just die, though. In an event better than any fairy tale, he rose again, went to heaven to be enthroned next to his Father, and there he prays for her, asking his Father for every blessing and protection she needs to complete her “make up”—not as in cosmetics, but as in members. He loves her and is not willing that any one who is to be a part of her would be left out and perish. In God’s wisdom, her growth and development requires testing and trial, until the day comes when she is a fully prepared bride. 

So, we wait now in weakness and suffering, but we know the happy ending is coming.