From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Nineteen, Day Two
God is not content to be known merely as Creator, Lord, or even Father. Incredibly he reveals himself also as Bridegroom or Husband. The Hebrew Scriptures contain numerous allusions to Yahweh as Israel's divine Husband, and the New Testament presents Christ as the church's Bridegroom. He is the Holy One who did not cling to his divinity but left his Father's house to dwell among us, calling us to become one with him in the most intimate way possible. To all of us, male and female, Christ offers himself as our provider and protector, the one who has forever pledged himself in faithfulness and love.
Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! Revelation 19:9
Praying the Name
Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear."
(Fine linen stands for the righteous
acts of the saints.)
Then the angel said to me, "Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' " And he added, "These are the true words of God." Revelation 19:6-9
Reflect On: Revelation 19:6-9.
Praise God: Whose love endures forever.
Offer Thanks: For Christ's intimate love.
Confess: Any distrust of God or his ways.
Ask God: To help you perceive his faithfulness.
I sometimes wonder why I am so easily frustrated, so quick to complain. My computer breaks down, my call is routed to the wrong person, my car won't start. Admittedly these are petty annoyances. But they feel so constant, like a stone in my shoe that I can't shake out. I tell myself my outsized response to such things is not merely a symptom of immaturity but a sign that I may be suffering from a hidden condition. I call it paradisus absconditus, otherwise known as the "paradise lost syndrome."
You won't find it listed in a medical dictionary, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Let me explain. You may have heard of something called "phantom limb syndrome," a condition in which a person feels sensation in an amputated limb. Maybe paradise lost syndrome works in a similar way. But rather than experiencing sensation in a body part we no longer possess, we experience sensation about a state of being we no longer possess. My theory is this — that whether or not we know it, each of us has some kind of primeval memory of paradise. We have an instinct that tells us we belong there, and when that instinct is thwarted, as it always is, we feel frustrated, cheated, and disappointed. Everyday life contradicts our secret or not-so-secret belief that we were meant to live as the fairy tales tell us — happily every after. And happily ever after often involves our longing for the perfect relationship, one guaranteed to make us happy.
Our instinct for paradise will serve us well if it leads to the realization that our true happiness lies neither in perfect circumstances nor in finding the perfect relationship here on earth. Instead, it lies in restoring the most important relationship we will ever have, one fractured in Eden and one whose brokenness has spread to every other relationship in our lives.
Over and over, the Hebrew Scriptures present Israel's relationship with God in the most intimate terms possible. He is not just Maker and Lord but also Israel's Husband. But it also describes this as a troubled marriage because even though God is a perfect Lover, his people are not. Instead, they are broken, infected by sin, unable to trust, seduced by other gods. But still the Lord persists in loving them. Intent on restoring the relationship, he sends prophets to call them back and troubles to bring them home. But nothing works for long. So in a final act of mercy he sends his own Son.
This is why the Bible is best understood, neither as a book of rules nor as a compendium of wisdom, but as a love story, prolonged and painful but one that ends on a tremendous note of joy with the greatest of all celebrations: the wedding feast of the Lamb. This is also why the New Testament reveals Jesus as the Bridegroom whom the church awaits with longing. He is the promise we hope for, the purpose for which we were made. He is the One who is able to deal with our brokenness, to heal our sin, and to woo us back to himself through his powerful, self-sacrificing love. He is the paradise we seek.
Today as you suffer life's small indignities, don't allow them to become a source of continual frustration; instead, let them remind you of your longing for something more. Ask the Lord to help you turn your frustrations into occasions for praise as you express your desire to take part one day in the greatest of all celebrations, the wedding feast of the Lamb and his bride, the church.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.