“Beloved, now it does not appear what we shall be, but we know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him face to face.”
1 John 3:2
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”
1 Corinthians 13:12, The Message
We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature…is still soaked with the sense of exile.
The Father is longing for the day in which He can present to His Son, and to the earth, the one who “made herself ready” for His return.
Twenty-eight years ago–today–a passel of bridesmaids and groomsmen joined the minister and prospective bride and groom–‘the Sange’ and me–for the rehearsal of our wedding. It was August and it was hot. Even the Tampa/St. Pete/Clearwaterians called it hot.
Vows were already written and in the hopper, the gown was hanging ready, tuxes were rented and the accoutrements of the next day’s celebration were gradually taking their place throughout the church. Amid the overbalance of familiar was a sprinkling here and there of transcendence. As the hours grew closer to the unveiling, however, the balance of common and sacred would shift. Dramatically.
Shortly before midnight Sandy and I parted ways: she to her house, me to my hotel. It wasn’t lost on me that the next time I saw her, she would take my name and I would take her home.
In the tension of “yes, but not quite yet” we ran the gamut of emotions in those in- between hours of preparation and realization, consecration before consummation, fine-tuning until finality…one moment we were walking on sunshine, the next walking in the quicksand of time stand still. Waiting. Doubting. Wondering. This is for life, sport. Am I really ready to commit to this? How could I even dare form the question? How many hours yet? Anticipating. Waiting. Then: watching as her face floats up and docks with my conscious thought: ah, yes, she is the one who causes my heart to race!
Until a few minutes after six on August 20, 1983, I had a pretty good idea about Sandy. I had memorized her face–from the gorgeous mole above her left cheekbone to the ‘talent specks’ in her hazel/green eyes. I knew she had a slight discoloration in one of her front teeth from a childhood mishap and a cute, subtle worry line between her eyebrows. I knew the shape and color of her lips that needed no artificial coloring. Yeah, I pretty much had her down.
Yet, all I had in the “yes, but not quite yet” was a blurry familiarity of my girl. It was stick-figure reality compared to the 3-D HD image I would soak in a few hours later. Even still, in my dusky twilight timescape, the image in my mind was Rembrandt in quality. Up until “then”.
And I was in love. Boy howdy, was I in love! I didn’t need any more evidence to convince me I had made the right choice. Or so I thought.
I was pretty composed until the doors of the lobby popped open and a bedazzling white surprise came into view. Suddenly, everything else faded away and I had tunnel vision as I watched this one I thought I had a handle on, move toward me. The most beautiful vision in the room, and she was making her way to me! The transitions from friends to modest lovers and now matrimoniously one was completed. For good. Why would she come to me?
Because nine months earlier I said (not word-for-word translation): “Here’s a crazy thought. Marry me. I promise to love you—and only you—always.” Somewhere in that goofy proposal, for better for worse for life, Sandy could not imagine another life. Thankfully.
Can you imagine “that” Day? The Eternal Day? When all our strifes, burdens, cares, failures, wins, blessings, hardships, doubts, waverings, repentings, struggles, following, pursuing, obedience, disobedience, falling, rising, trusting, warring, defending, sighing, crying and rejoicing—everything we knew of this life and all that was necessary to prepare us for the next—will have run its full course and we will be clothed with immortality. And why? Because, through it all, we believed what He said: “Follow Me, and I will make you…”
Follow Me. Through this narrow gate. Down this narrow road. It’s taking us Somewhere…you will never believe what’s ahead.