Tag Archive | Jesus

The Ugly Bride

img_4876I heard it again last week. A Christian blogger proudly announced that his focus was Jesus, and since the church was a broken mess, this person was going to honor Jesus alone. Just Me and Jesus, he said. Church isn’t for me.

I found myself imagining a conversation between two men, where one guy wants to warn the other about a bad choice for a wife. And being a novelist, imagining conversations isn’t hard. For this one, blogger dude is named Dude. And Jesus–well, he’s named Jesus. And the conversation might go something like this…

“So, man, I love you. You know that, right? I’d take a bullet for you, man. But I need to talk to you about this bride of yours. I mean, I hate to say this, but knowing who you are, and how you could have anyone you want, why would you want this bride? She’s kind of… well, she’s kind of ugly.”

“My bride is ugly?” Jesus asks. “Tell me what’s ugly about her.”

“Well,” Dude says. He’s warming up to this. Jesus wants his opinion. “Okay, sometimes she comes out with her hair a mess. Her clothes don’t always match. I mean, how simple would it be just to keep herself looking good, you know? She’s the bride of one impressive guy, right? And the way she acts… Sometimes she laughs way too loud. Her jokes can be crude. She doesn’t always say the most politically correct things.” He lowers his voice. “I’ve even noticed her scratching in public. That’s just not done. I’m just saying it might be better for you to keep looking. There are plenty of brides out there.”

“But I love this one.”

“Okay. I mean, you’re a fair guy. She must have something special, but why doesn’t she show it? People would like you a lot more if your bride wasn’t so difficult. Unpredictable. That cackling laugh, the wild hair, her inability to behave right in public…I don’t get it.”

“Have you seen her feed the poor?”

“Well, sure. And that’s good and all. But she doesn’t always feed the poor. There are still a lot of poor.”

“And have you seen her take in the orphans?”

“Of course. But there are still orphans. I’ve also seen her turn her back on orphans and poor. I’ve seen her do a lot of things I don’t agree with. You just never know what she’s going to do.”

“Regardless, she’s the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.”

“Man, you need to get out more,” Dude says, frustrated. Jesus just isn’t seeing it. “She can be rigid and fanatical. Or she can turn around and be blase. I don’t know how you find that beautiful.”

“Have you heard her sing?”

“Sing?” Dude is perplexed. “So what if she can sing? A lot of people can sing.”

“She sings to me. Sometimes with an organ, sometimes just with her voice, and sometimes with flutes or drums. Beautiful love songs.”

“I hate to break it, but she doesn’t have that great a voice. Nothing about this woman is spectacular in any way. I just don’t want her to hold you back or bring you down. You have a mission, right? She’s in the way.”

“Her voice is angelic. And she’s the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.”

“Why do you keep saying that?” Dude asks. He’s angry now. He loves this guy, but wow. Like talking to a brick. “She’s not beautiful. You asked me, so maybe I’ll ask you. What makes her beautiful?”

“You mean other than feeding the poor and holding the orphans and singing to me with the voice of an angel?”

“Um,” Dude says. This isn’t going well. “Yes. Other than that.”

“My father made her just for me.”

“What? Your father made her?”

“He put together all her parts, exactly for me. Everything I need for my mission. Everything I love. Everything I find beautiful. Her vocal cords are just for me. Her hair is for me. Her clothes are for me. And crooked toes and each finger and every part of her. In every part of her I see my father’s love for me. And he sees my love for him when I woo her, when I sing back to her, when I hold her in my arms and we dream of our future together.”

Dude coughs. This guy has it bad, and he realizes he might have said the wrong thing here. It probably isn’t a great idea to anger someone so powerful.

“Fine,” he says, panic giving way to anger. “Fine. Your father gave you a gift that’s average at best. You want everyone to know you through that woman? Really? It’s the best either of you can do? That’s fine, but I don’t want any part of it. You and I can be friends, but she has to stay out of it.”

“I don’t think that will work,” Jesus says. He shrugs. “She’s everything. I don’t have room left for anyone else. But if you talk to her, spend time with her, get to know her, I think you’ll see. Look at her the way I do. See my father in her, when she feeds a homeless man a sandwich, when she holds a door for an elderly man, when she sings a song off key with a sparkle in her eye. See my love for my father when she compliments a harried waitress or holds a victim of violence or mows her neighbor’s grass when he’s ill.”

Dude hangs his head. Jesus’ bride embarrasses him. She might have Jesus duped, but he knows the truth, that she’s not classy enough for Jesus, not sophisticated, prone to fits of anger. But what can he say?

Jesus smiles. “I know what you’re thinking. But if I only accepted perfection, I couldn’t be your friend, either. I love her. She is and always will be the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. And I would easily take a bullet for her. Already have, in fact. And the scars I wear–they just remind me that while her songs are off key and her hair can be wild and sometimes she makes no sense to the world, she is mine. And I am hers, all she needs, all she wants, all she loves.”

—-

I feel sad for the blogger who thinks he’s doing Jesus and Christianity a favor by maligning the bride Jesus loves, the bride for whom Jesus wears scars, the bride that signifies such eternal, omnipotent love. I hope that man spends some time getting to know the bride, even with her unpredictable behavior and mismatched clothes. Even when she scratches in public.

Because regardless of anything else, Jesus loves her. She is the most beautiful creature he has ever seen. One day all will see her vibrant beauty, and the flaws of this world will fall away. And wow, that’s a scene I can’t wait to see.

 

 

 

Yes, Forever

I was standing on a beach near sunset.  The day had been perfect, one of those amazing days that can happen on a vacation, a day filled with the laughter of children, and the discovery of strange creatures in the ocean, mild adventures, lots of laziness.  We’d all gotten a little too much sun, and the evening was cool and breezy and left us all very mellow.

Do I need to describe that pink light that hits a beach near sunset?  If you’ve been there, you know exactly what I mean, and if you’ve never been, I can’t make you understand, but it’s the light where everyone looks perfect, with just enough light, just enough color, just enough everything to make you think perhaps this very moment is meant to last forever.  How could any moment ever look or feel more content and peaceful than this one?

Part of me hates moments like that, little glimpses of things to come.  There’s a promise in the perfect beach moments, the song that gives you goose bumps, the events that make your heart soar, a promise of better things, perfect things, future things.  But the moments end, and the reality crashes back down painfully, the reality that screams from every direction Not Yet.

I wasn’t made to die.  My kids and my family and even my pets weren’t made to end.  As much as life can be awful, we cling.  Something deep inside knows we’re not finite creatures.  Even the promise of some distant heaven is somehow wrong, because my heart knows I was made for this place.  Eternity was set in my heart, and it’s eternity here.  This place is filled with beauty and wonders I’ve never seen, never experienced, never tasted and touched, and I am drawn to see and do it all, explore every nook of this place before I go.  But I know I can’t do that.  Nobody can do that.

I hope this is truly where we end up.  I’ve heard many theories on heaven and earth in the final kingdom, and I don’t know what to expect.  I know it will be good, and that knowledge will have to do.  But my biggest hope is that it will turn out to be here, made what it was originally meant to be.  I will see the deepest canyons and crawl through their secret places.  I will plumb the darkest oceans and play with her creatures.  The peaks of mountains will be my playground, and the highest falls will drop onto my shoulders.  I have a lot yet to do.  I wonder if Jesus will accompany me on my explorations.  I wonder if you will accompany me.  We have so much time to see and do and create so many amazing things.  And the glory of God will smile on us and light our way with living, breathing, compassionate light every step of the way.  Light with heart and soul.  I can’t even fathom it.

Time passes, and I struggle with that.  I don’t like to read books where a character’s life passes from birth to death in two hundred pages.  I don’t like old photos or videos of my children way back when.  Part of me wants to pretend today is all there is, that those perfect promise moments don’t exist, that nobody will ache and hurt and leave, even when the leaving is to a better place.  And so many leave never to return to the adventure again…my heart weeps.  But it doesn’t weep enough, for I don’t plead with most of them to join me.  How can I not plead with them to join me?  Who am I to think this little tiny journey through such an amazing world is enough and not give them some hope that this could be their playground forever?  How can I not introduce them to the creator who will laugh with them and comfort them and love them beyond the limits of time?

I don’t know if I’ll see a beach again, not in this version of the world (and no, I’m not dying, not faster than any of the rest of you, just feeling the weight of life’s unknowns.).  But in the version to come, I hope you come hang out in the surf with me.  Come climb the mountains and tackle the jungles and run through the meadows with me.  We weren’t meant to be finite, and I dream of the day we kick off time and the Not Yet becomes the Yes, Forever.