The Good Surprise: Joyful Tears for Soldiers & Heaven

It will occur like a thief in the night. Or a sudden surprise knock of the door that changes our demeanor – whether good or bad. The mystery of surprise twists are captured in the best of movies. The genuine joy that can be gained from an undeserving, loving surprise practically outweighs any other combine of feelings. When surprise meets grace …. uncontrollable emotions ensue.

Once again, I have caught myself looking at YouTube videos of soldiers spontaneously coming home to surprise their loved ones. The look of awe and tearful incredulity by the family members is simply AMAZING (2:59 is my favorite). Question – How is it that I can empathize with the shock of the family members? No one in my family is overseas fighting for war. The closest that my family has experienced this was the first time that I came home for a visit after first leaving for college. That is an unfair comparison to someone that has been overseas for 8 continuous months and who’s life can be taken at any given second. Maybe the reason that I/we can resonate with the emotions presented in these videos is because at the deepest part of or being we KNOW that a greater day is coming when we shall feel the APEX of that emotion.

The Bible describes the day Jesus returns as impossible to be predicted or anticipated; not even by the angels (Mark 13:32). The day is described as a thief in the night and a flash (Matthew 24:26 and 1 Corinthians 15:52). To better paraphrase, the Bible says: “One day some of you will be looking at videos on Vine, some will be shopping at Whole Foods, a few will be washing dishes, playing in a football game, a few will be praying over their cancer-ridden child, some will be in the mission field, some will be joyfully skipping in the rain on their first date, some will be watching Netflix before bedtime, waters will be flowing, trees will be dying. Then suddenly, POOF, Jesus and all of his supremacy and glory will come down and do what He was destined to do for the sake of the Father.”

Now for the beauty:

In that moment, when we are facing this holy and supreme being, we will finally see just how infinitely undeserving we are to be with Him. We wouldn’t help but tremblingly bow down in His presence. As 2 Peter 13:10 describes, everything will be laid bare. In that moment, we will FULLY understand how “All of our righteous deeds are filthy rags”. As our life is reflected on in that instant, we’ll be aware how all our earthly “good” lacks in comparison to this epic God before us. Remember that time we read our Bible for quiet time? It does not match up. Remember the time we worshiped for hours? When we see God’s ultimate glory, we will realize that we should have worshiped infinitely longer.

Nothing we did or can do will protect or save us. It is in that instant where will FULLY see the importance of the cross. The magnitude of the love that was shown will blow us away. How can we speak? What emotions will we be feeling? For those that truly believe Christ is their Savior, we may hesitantly mutter something similar to this, “Oh my oh my, why are you choosing me??? Really?? Just crush me. I am dirty and damaged. I can’t even look at your bright perfection.” God, in his warm nature, will then happily tell us, “Jesus has made you clean. He has absorbed the curse and provided the perfection that your soul needed. No wrath for you. Come, join in the wedding supper of the lamb and see true paradise. Come celebrate with ALL my children.” [Galatians 3:13; 2 Peter 1:11]. After all the tears we will rejoice that the curse has been lifted. Mercy Grace Mercy Grace. Those times that you doubted Jesus was real = Grace. That time you were angry at God because of your mother’s terminal cancer = Grace. The staunch atheist that spent his whole life hating God, but in his last days he “genuinely” accepted the faith = Grace.

Oh the joy. The joy. The joy!! May we see and savor the supremacy of Jesus Christ. The One who loves us. Let us see that He is supreme over the missing Malaysian plane, over all universities, March Madness, all the internet, hurricanes, all of science, over Fox News & MSNBC, our jobs, over our stocks & investments, the Frozen soundtrack, EVERYTHING. Yes, currently this all feels abstract; but the writers of the Bible make it seem as if this is right around the corner. Let us dive into his warmth now. Let us put on his armor as we are warned to be watchful as the time approaches (Ephesians 6:13-18). With the same token … let us still enjoy these tearjerker YouTube videos. Honestly speaking, they are AWWWESOME!!

 

Here lies Jesus, King of the Jews:

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Our Future Wedding Feast with Jesus!

I have gotten the warm pleasure of joining this particular small group within one of the many churches I have been trying out. This is my first time being in a community of believers that has such a wide age variation- from people my age up to married couples and even grandparents. And here’s what I’ve noticed…..

It is good. There is a sweet and vivid depiction of Christ-like love in how the entire group communes together. Since Day One there has been nonstop laughter followed by deep-deep worship. One thing that has strongly caught my eye is how the young children around treat their fathers.  They. Love. Their. Daddy.  I mean, those kids absolutely adore their dads. You can see the pure admiration in their eyes, even the babies.  In the future, I want that very badly. I’m praying for it. Now, it is not that those guys did everything right per se, because there is the element of God’s grace…but I sure do want to learn from them though. I’m taking notes with a permanent mental-marker.

What is even more special is that this weekly occurrence of meeting together for fellowship happens everywhere across the globe. Believers constantly gathering together to pray and cry and eat and laugh.  This picture, when seen from a holistic perspective, is jaw-dropping. We have brothers and sisters THROUGHOUT the world, but can’t really come close to grasping or seeing the fullness of what exactly is happening. But one day we will. One day we will.

The scriptures repetitively attempt to show us this theme of eating together, sometimes partying in celebration even. In summary, those scriptures say that:

good food and good wine is to be enjoyed with good friends and an abundance of jokes and laughter because….this is how we practice for heaven.”

The big question now becomes, “what are we practicing for?”

Some of my favorite imagery in Revelation is that of the future “Wedding Supper of the Lamb.” The possibilities of what that will look like are endless.  Fortunately, Revelation 19-20 gives us some details. During the second coming of Jesus, after the Judgment, there will be a great multitude of joyful singing and music leading up to the millennial reign of Christ. There will be epic shouting of praises because we finally see God in his fullness and to our shock He has chosen us to be with him.  It will literally sweep us off our feet.  No seriously, it literally will…because what directly follows is the Marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7,8). This will consist of us, the corporate members of the church, being made ready for our impending event with Christ. Just try to imagine the feeling of what that’s going to be like. The excitement of our full consummation with Christ, all that we’ve hoped for and prayed for has finally arrived. Our emotions will be running high. We are talking about ALL the believers past, present, and future. ALL, together.

Finally the moment arrives, as it is now time for the highly anticipated Wedding Supper Of The Lamb!!! Our delicious feast with Jesus Christ! Jesus alludes to this gigantic family meal at certain times during his earthly ministry, namely in Luke 22 and Matthew 8.   Image

He tells his disciples that they will all “eat and drink again in the Kingdom that God has granted.” He also mentions that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be at this table with us.  In Revelation 15:3, John says that there will be songs sang of Moses and of the song of the Lamb. Many theologians believe that these passages give us key hints into how this feast will play out.

This scene is interpreted to describe a dinner “toast.” In this scene, believers from around the world and from different time periods on earth will be telling their individual stories of how God saved them and did tremendous things during their lives…all to the glory of God. So Moses will stand up and tell the story of Pharaoh and the burning bush. He won’t be stuttering as he did in his earthly body. When he gets to part of the Red Sea parting, the apostles Peter and Matthew will interrupt him and joyfully shout for him to “act” it out again. And Moses will do it and we’ll all laugh and worship about what God did there. People will glance over at Jesus as to say, “ Wow, you were in control of that too?!?!!”

Then Abraham will speak. Then Elijah. King David. Mary Magdalene. The Samaritan Woman. And so on. Then it will be our turn to speak and tell our stories. I would contend that the most epic stories told will be those told by the smallest, most unheralded of people.

-The surprising stories will be those similar to the little old lady that lived in the 1840s risking her like to teach Irish immigrants the Gospel as they arrived in Manhattan.

-It’s going to be the millions of Africans that were martyred for coming to Christ in the early 1900s, but never hesitated as their brothers and sisters were killed in front of them.

-The heart-wrenching story will come from the physically/mentally challenged kids that died at young ages because their health completely failed them. For the record, scripture is going to say that these kids will be in perfect, new spiritual bodies at this supper. And they will clearly speak to us all with power and purpose.

-Some of the most glorifying stories will be that of the guy that struggled with depression and spiritual warfare his entire life….but kept praying and kept pushing into the Lord.

This feast will have some very crazy, awesome-filled moments. What is tough is imagining someone standing up and bragging about how easy and lukewarm their Christian life was. Not directly after John the Baptist talks about the awesome times he had baptizing people, lets be real. See, it’s very tough to give glory to God when your praise is to health, prosperity, and ease; but not to the giver of all things. We must remember to give glory to God always. Especially now, today, together, because this is our practice for when we get to Heaven.

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Other verses used: Hebrew 10:25, Ecclesiastes 9:7, Exodus 24:11, Daniel 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20:1-5, 1 Corinthians 15:35-49, 1 John 3:2, Hebrews 10:25.