Tag Archives: Intimacy with God

Nuggets of Hope 27 – Are you listening?

PSSST … 

Hey you. I have some things to tell you. Secrets. Things that can help you.  Are you listening? This is really important.

God. 

This is a time of many opinions, much commentary, many unknowns and uncertainties, many claims and counter-claims, much fear and anxiety, much suspicion and accusation, much unrest and contention.

In the storm of words, it is a great gift to be able to quiet one’s thoughts by giving our attention to the Holy One.

Before I was born again, I could not do this. I was a young United Church pastor – attempting to be a shepherd to others although I did not yet really know the Good Shepherd. I was driven and anxious much of the time. I wanted peace – wanted it desperately – but I could not think my way into it.

I found that the way to peace was through surrender of my will to Jesus Christ and baptism with the Holy Spirit. Right away my life became much simpler as I no longer felt compelled to solve every problem or come up with a solution for every situation. There was such freedom in not being responsible for everything.

I am very grateful for those who trained me, early on in my walk with Christ, in learning to listen to the quiet whisper of Holy Spirit speaking to my spirit.

Nowadays, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am finding that to stay healthy I need to practice a few simple disciplines.  Physical exercise, prayer, Scripture, work, rest.

One of the most important is to pay more attention to the voice of the Lord than to the voice of man.

From the time I was a young child I always wanted to know what was true and what was false. I also have a strong sense of justice and hate to see lies and wrongs prevail. These are good qualities but I have found that in order to stay in God’s peace – which is the place of order and productivity and fruitfulness and life and hope – I need to discipline myself to listen to His voice in preference to all the other voices. When I forget this, even for a short time, I pay a price. When I remember it, peace returns and I am able to see clearly again because I have heard the voice of the One who is True.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Jesus, John 10:10

My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways …
as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
God, Isaiah 55:8-9

The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are a mere breath.
Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O Lord,
And whom You teach out of Your law;
That You may grant him relief from the days of adversity,
Until a pit is dug for the wicked.
Psalm 94:11-13

The Holy Spirit is such a blessing to me. In an instant He can cut through the confusion of human voices and give me His perspective. He doesn’t answer all my questions but He directs my attention to the one thing that I need to pay attention to in that moment. This brings rest to my thoughts and keeps me stable, focussed and productive.

One of my favourite Psalms speaks of the secret counsel of the Lord which is available only to those who fear Him. It is like the counsel that one gives to a trusted friend. I need that secret counsel on a daily basis, to guide my life, to show me His ways and keep me from trouble.

I daresay you need that daily counsel of the Lord as much as I do.

Are you listening?

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Nuggets of Hope 18 – Go Buy Oil

Go Buy Oil.

There are some who would say that this is a great time to buy oil stocks, when prices are at historic lows due to the COVID-19 crisis. That may be good financial advice, but it’s not the focus of this blog. Rather, in the midst of the current crisis, I want to encourage you to buy oil for the lamp of your spirit, while you still have time.

It’s clear from Scripture that before the return of the Lord, pressures will increase in society. The current crisis is not the end of the age, but it is a reminder that God has promised to shake all things prior to the return of the Lord. How we position our hearts is of the utmost importance.

In Matthew 24-25, Jesus is teaching on the end of the age, and he tells a parable to encourage us to keep our lamp of faith burning. The context of the parable is a typical first century Jewish wedding.

In a traditional Jewish wedding, after a year of betrothal during which the bride and groom were to remain separate and sexually pure, the groom would go to the bride’s parent’s home at an undisclosed time, to fetch her, and bring her to his father’s house where a place had been prepared for her. The friends of the bridegroom would await his return. When he returned with his bride, there was a loud shout of rejoicing, and the wedding festivities could begin.

The ten young women in Jesus’ parable were among those awaiting the bridegroom’s return. They were all invited to the wedding festivities but in the end, only five of the ten made it to the feast. It got late, they got sleepy, and five of them ran out of oil for their lamps. While they went to get more oil, the bridegroom came, the wedding feast began, and they missed it. Misty Edwards tells the story in this powerful song.

Jesus describes five of the young women as wise, and five as foolish. The foolish ones didn’t bring extra oil, but the wise ones did. The wise ones wouldn’t share their oil with the foolish ones, because they didn’t want to miss the wedding feast. Jesus doesn’t criticize them for this. In fact, he praises them.

So what has all this got to do with us, you may ask? Plenty. In the midst of this pandemic, it’s easy to get frustrated as we wait for it to be over. But the boredom of waiting is actually a spiritual opportunity which we shouldn’t miss. Jesus has instructed us to stay watchful and spiritually alert as we wait for His return. The key question for us is whether we will stay awake, with our lamps lit, ready for that day. Your lamp of faith and prayer can’t run on someone else’s oil. You have to have your own relationship with God. You can’t borrow someone else’s. The Holy Spirit is available to all believers, but some cultivate His presence in their lives while others run mostly on their own resources. It’s up to us whether we invest in our relationship with God. No-one else can give you their prayer life.

The pandemic will end eventually. Other crises will follow – some bigger, some smaller. Every challenging season that tests our faith is an opportunity to check our oil supply. God is willing to give us all the oil we need, but we have to seek it from Him – and it’s best not to wait for the last minute. If we want to be able to stay steady in challenging times, it’s up to us to develop the stamina we need. If you haven’t been cultivating your life in God, this is a great time for a reset. Right now we still have time to go buy oil for our lamps. Don’t waste the opportunity. One day, it will be too late.

 

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Nuggets of Hope 14 – Not Separated

The three cuties in this pic are my granddaughters Madeleine, Sophie and Alivia. They live in Kansas City with their parents, my son Simeon and his wife Heather. This photo was taken during their last visit to us, just after Marion’s Mom passed away in December 2019. Marion and I had been planning to visit them this week, but the COVID-19 pandemic put plans for a visit on hold.

One of the impacts of COVID-19 has been to separate people. Our other children and grandchildren are much closer by, but we can’t see them in person either. With the need for social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, not only can many people not go to work, but churches and community groups can’t meet as they normally do, and family members and friends can’t see each other.

Even more painful is the separation due to death. As painful as that is in more normal times, during this pandemic some have lost loved ones due to other causes and have not been able to hold normal funeral observances due to the need for social distancing. Others have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and have not been able to be at their loved ones’ bedside when they passed because of the risk of infection. In Wuhan, Italy and Spain, where the pandemic has been more severe than what we have so far experienced in Canada, at times normal funeral observances have had to be completely bypassed. All of this only serves to accentuate the sense of loss and grief due to the separation of death.

In the midst of all this separation, pain and loss, I am so thankful for the glorious truth that nothing can separate believers from the love of Christ.  In the powerful closing section of Romans 8, Paul asks a rhetorical question :

Who shall separate us
from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress,
or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Romans 8:35

He goes on to answer his own question.

No, in all these things
we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor powers, 
nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us
from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39

This was not written by someone who was a stranger to suffering. Paul suffered many things because of his devotion to the cause of Christ. But he had no regrets because he had encountered the love and power of the risen Christ. He knew Jesus was alive and he knew he had an eternal inheritance in the Kingdom that cannot be shaken.

The Bible tells us that we were made for eternity. This is why humans hate and fear death.  When the author of Hebrews writes of those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery, he’s speaking of a universal human experience. But praise God, Jesus has conquered death on our behalf and opened for us the gates of eternal life.

One day we will inherit a renewed heaven and earth where there will be no more death. This is a glorious and blessed hope. We look forward to the Day of the Lord when this age of death will be over and a new age will dawn. But we have an advance taste of this inheritance now. I want to encourage you to practice talking to the Holy Spirit. He is the living deposit that Jesus has put into every believer. Not only can you talk to him, he can talk to you. He is eager to comfort and strengthen you with strong confidence that Jesus is alive and can guide your every step.

Although all of us – even introverts like me – find it hard to be separated from loved ones, COVID-19 is actually a great opportunity to take extra time alone with God and get to know Him better. The Bible talks about a secret place of the Most High, and says that the friendship or secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear him. God has not left us alone, but to experience his friendship we need to practice talking to Him and listening to His voice. This is not complicated. In fact it’s surprisingly simple. Although the Holy Spirit can speak to us in many ways, the most common way is through his still small voice, a gentle nudge in our spirits. This can come when we are reading Scripture, but will also come at other times if we are paying attention. The Holy Spirit will always lead you to Jesus and show you things that are consistent with His word, so this is one way that you can be assured you are hearing from God. If you’re concerned about family members or others in need, He can also show you how to pray for them. I often ask Holy Spirit to show me how to pray for specific situations or people, and He never fails to answer.

Jesus assured us that he would not leave us alone.

The Helper, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
he will teach you all things
and bring to your remembrance
all that I have said to you
.
John 14:26

I will be thoroughly delighted when I can hug my children and grandchildren again, see my friends and go places freely. I’m sure you will too. But I have sensed the Spirit of God nudging me to make good use of this time of being “shut in” to get to know Him better. As much as circumstances allow, I want to encourage you to do the same. Even if you have busy young children, you can train them to take some quiet time so that you can do the same. Time with the Lord is your lifeline. He is waiting to speak to you.

God bless you.

 

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Nuggets of Hope 9 – An Open Door to God

One of the hardest things about the COVID-19 pandemic for many people is isolation. Yes, it’s better than getting sick, but not being able to have contact with friends and loved ones is hard for all of us.

You probably all have lists of people that you are missing. I miss my children, my grandchildren, my friends from our church Bible Study group. I’m thankful to be able to see them online through the blessing of technology, but it will be wonderful to be able to see them in person and hug them again.

Others have bigger concerns. A friend contacted me recently asking me to pray for his ageing parents, who live in Chicago and both of whom have COVID-19 symptoms. His father is in ICU and at last report was fighting for his life. Many have similar concerns for loved ones.

In the midst of this pandemic, I want to encourage you with this simple but powerful Scriptural truth. As believers in Jesus, with our record of sin washed away by the blood of Jesus and our spirits made alive by the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have full access to God. That has not changed. He is near, he is not far off.

Long ago, the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus that before the coming of our Saviour we were without hope and without God in the world. This is how many people today feel about their lives – no hope, and no God. But that’s not God’s final word on the subject. Paul goes on to speak these words of assurance (Ephesians 2:17-18).

He [Jesus] came and preached peace
to you who were far away [Gentiles]

and peace to those who were near [Jews].
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

God has an open door policy. He has paid the debt of sin that stood against us so that we are not condemned, and given us His Spirit so that we can draw near to Him. His Spirit in our hearts prompts us to cry out Abba, Father (Abba is a word that means much like Papa or Daddy). He wants us to come to him. He is waiting for us to come.

Recently I heard a powerful testimony from a man of God whom I know personally, a man of integrity. In an online prayer meeting, they had been praying for a young woman who was battling COVID-19 in ICU. He spoke over her that angels would minister to her and that she would be healed. Some hours later she was recovering well and reported that angels had visited her.

Make no mistake. COVID-19 is a powerful enemy. But Jesus is a more powerful friend. We have friends in high places. Let’s be wise, and take all necessary precautions, but let’s not allow fear to paralyze us. We still have access to our God and He is still the King. In the midst of many shakings, which we know will increase as the end of the age draws near, let’s draw near to God – which is our privilege in Christ – and trust Him to show us His favour and glory. He is good.

God bless you today.

 

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Nuggets of Hope 4 – God’s Spirit in us

His Spirit lives in us.

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, I am offering these brief reflections as a way of finding hope by turning our attention to God. Today I want to focus on the good news that those who have put their hope in Jesus have His Spirit living within them.

Writing to the believers in Corinth long ago, Paul penned these words – whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17 NIV). As Jesus promised, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17 ESV).

This is powerfully good news.

If you have put your hope in Jesus, if you belong to Him, then even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the daily onslaught of bad news, the Spirit of Jesus dwells within you. Your thoughts and feelings do not have to be ruled by the latest frightening report. He is willing and able to give you wisdom, insight, comfort and direction. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

My friends, those are not just nice-sounding words. This is truth to live by. We don’t have to be paralyzed by fear. Jesus is holding us securely. Each day we can get up and set our hearts to trust Him, and direct our hearts to listen to what His Spirit wants to say to us about the affairs of the day. I have found that Holy Spirit is ready and willing to speak to me about anything that concerns me. It’s an amazing blessing that has brought me peace and perspective more times than I can count.

Not only that, the Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.  We have the hope of eternal life.  As Paul wrote to the believers in Rome long ago, if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you (Romans 8:11 ESV). We don’t live for this life only. A million years from now, this current trouble will be only a memory, but how we respond to Him in the midst of it will have an eternal impact. He is developing our hearts, training us to trust Him, preparing us for glory. The rulers of this age quite clearly do not know what to do. They are making it up as they go along. I speak this with no disrespect. They are doing their best, and they are in need of our prayers, but they are clearly overwhelmed.

Our God, however, is far from overwhelmed. He is at work in this situation for the good of those who love Him. He is not worried or anxious. He is working in those who trust Him, preparing them for what is to come.

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV

People of God, let us rise up in courage and seize the day. His Spirit lives in us.

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Nuggets of Hope 2 – Friends with Jesus

The photo in this blog is of Dan, my best friend throughout high school and college years. It was taken in 1976 when Marion and I got married. I lost touch with Dan for years but then he re-appeared in my life in 1991 and we remained close until he went to be with the Lord eight years ago.

I am very thankful for his lifelong friendship, and remember him with gratitude. But as thankful as I am for Dan, I’m even more thankful for Jesus.

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, I am offering these brief reflections as a way of finding hope by turning our attention to God. Today I want to focus on friendship. Let’s take a quick look at some amazing words that Jesus spoke to his closest followers about this important topic. In John 15:13-15, Jesus’ best friend John tells us that Jesus spoke these powerful words about how He saw his relationship with them.

Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends
if you do what I command you.
No longer do I call you servants,
for the servant does not know what his master is doing;
but I have called you friends,
for all that I have heard from my Father
I have made known to you.

This tells us three things about what Jesus is like and what it means to be his friend.

First, he lays down his life for his friends. Greater love has no-one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  That’s exactly what Jesus did. He spoke these words to his friends just before heading out to the Garden of Gethesemane to be betrayed, mocked, tortured and hung on a cross. He gave his life for them and for us, so that we could stand before God with confidence, unafraid and unashamed.

Second, one mark of being Jesus’ friend is that you obey His teachings. You are my friends if you do what I command you. Jesus’ words have unique power – they are the words of life – and He is worthy to be obeyed. He’s our friend, but He’s also our Lord. David, the shepherd boy who became King of Israel, wrote that the friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him – those who stand in awe of Him and treasure His counsel.

Third, although He is worthy to be obeyed, Jesus doesn’t treat us as slaves or underlings. He treats us as partners. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. In the full knowledge that they would all fail him badly, Jesus called these weak men his friends, and told them that he wanted to share with them every secret that He had learned from His Father.

I am so thankful that I can talk to Jesus. I am also very thankful that He talks to me. I am thankful that He is not ashamed of my weakness and my need. I can’t count the number of times He has instructed my heart and given me a fresh perspective that I badly needed. He corrects, guides and encourages those who want to be His friends.

I encourage you today to spend time talking with Him and listening to His words. Take a look at any one of the four Gospels. They are a rich treasure of heavenly insight and shine a bright light on the character and purposes of this amazing Man. You won’t be disappointed.

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My sheep hear my voice

Just a few days ago I met with a man who told me he wanted to know God better. I believe his cry for a closer relationship with God is not unique to him.

Before Adam chose the way of independence, he used to walk in the garden with God. Ever since, there has been a longing in the human heart to overcome the separation between us and God. That’s why Jesus came – so we could be reconciled to the God who made us and for whom our hearts yearn.

One of the most precious promises that Jesus gives to His people is the promise of intimacy. My sheep hear My voice, He affirmed.

But to hear His voice you have to know His voice. Sheep listen to the voice of a shepherd that they have come to know and trust. The sheep-shepherd metaphor speaks of safety, familiarity and trust. Jesus wants us to be so familiar with His voice that we have no trouble knowing when He has something to tell us.

I hear lots of Christians saying things like I wish I knew God’s will for my life or I wish I could hear God’s voice more clearly, or I think I missed God’s will and now I can’t get back on track.  I can identify with their frustration because it’s where I used to live.

But God never intended for us to be stuck in this dilemma. Jesus doesn’t want us to have to follow him from a distance, like on a road trip in a convoy, when you are trying desperately to stay in view of a set of distant tail-lights in heavy traffic on a dark, rainy night.

Some people’s expectation of God is a bit like a car rally where they have to decipher a set of mysterious clues, hoping they end up at the right destination. I was in a car rally like that once. It was an adventure and a bit of a guessing game.

Our life in Christ is an adventure, for sure, but it’s not supposed to be a guessing game. Just before He went to the cross, Jesus promised His little band of followers that He would send His Spirit to be their helper – a word that also means comforter, counsellor and advocate. He was not leaving them to figure it out on their own. He promised to come to them.

The same promises apply to us. We don’t have to figure out how to follow God on our own. My sheep hear My voice. In future posts I’ll have more to say about some of the keys to knowing God’s voice and hearing Him reliably. For today, I simply want to underline that a close walk with God is how we were meant to live.

In the darkness of this age, as we look for the Kingdom that is coming, many voices compete for our attention, and we have an enemy who seeks to run interference and keep us from our goal. Even so, the Father wants you to be confident that you have access to His throne, that He listens when you speak, that He has things to say to you and that you have an eternal inheritance in Him.

I am praying for everyone who reads this, that you will be richly blessed and greatly encouraged as you cultivate your God-given capacity to know Him and hear His voice.

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The Bridal Seal of Love

For the past several weeks I have been making Song of Songs a major focus of my devotional life and as part of that focus, I have just finished listening to a wonderful 12-part teaching series by Mike Bickle (of International House of Prayer) on the Song of Songs.

Although this is not my first time devoting a season of my life to the Song, this time around I found it so motivating that I wanted to encourage you all to consider giving some time to contemplating the message of the Song (which really is the message of the First Commandment, in poetic form).

Because the Song of Songs is poetry, and because it is set in a culture very different from ours, some parts of it may seem strange to us. For this reason a guide may be helpful. I have been greatly helped by Mike Bickle’s teaching on the song – as well as his testimony of how God overcame his reluctance and taught him to love the Song. So, for any who would appreciate some help, here is a link to the final teaching in the series, to give you a taste and get you started.

I debated whether to share this with you all, because I don’t want to just promote my own agenda. But I don’t think it is just my agenda. Teaching the Bride to love the Bridegroom is central to God’s purposes in the Last Days. Nor is this at odds with focusing on the Great Commission. Rather, it’s the fuel for carrying out that commission without burning out.

Often we pray in a task-oriented or results-oriented mode. We pray for this need or that need. There is nothing wrong with this – Jesus told us to bring our requests to the Father – but the highest goal of our life, and what Jesus is returning for, is to be a Bride that is fully in love with Him, so that whatever we do is fuelled by our love for Him which in turn is fuelled by His love for us.

Increasingly, this is the mandate that the Lord is bringing to the forefront of my attention – to go deeper in knowledge of His love, and then to let everything else I do be motivated, shaped and fuelled by that love. Although I fall far short of this, it is my vision and my heart’s desire, and I believe it is also the call of God, the reason He created us and the reason Jesus came to earth – that He would have a people who know the fulness of His love.

In Jesus

Peter

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What does ISIS have to do with us?

Many Westerners probably think of the current war in Iraq as an unfortunate but far away conflict that has nothing to do with us, and no effect on our lives apart from higher oil and gas prices.

The reality is that ISIS, the group behind the conflict, is far more than just a band of terrorists. This is a highly-religious Islamic jihadist army whose goal is to establish an Islamic Caliphate (empire) in the Middle East, in the conviction that this is a key step in preparing the way for the return of the Mahdi, the Islamic saviour.

In response to a recent ISIS recruitment video, now apparently no longer available, Joel Richardson writes in his blog

What modern Christian movement or expression matches the zeal and commitment of this Satanic movement? Its going to take a prayer and missions movement unlike anything we have seen to date. Its going to take a return to the early Church theology of the cross and martyrdom. Its going to take a genuine Global Jesus Revolution.

In the West, most Christians are dulled and lulled by the comforts and cares of every day life. I understand this very well – I battle with it myself on a daily basis. We have grown used to a domesticated, Westernized, comfortable, compromised Christianity – a far cry from the gospel of Jesus. Our hearts cry out for intimacy with Jesus, but we can only have genuine intimacy with Him if we understand who He really is, and the true nature of His Kingdom and the battle in which we are engaged. The only way to fight is to keep our eyes on Him. When we speak of seeing the Lord’s House of Prayer established, we are not just crying out for personal intimacy with Jesus (though that is undoubtedly very important). We are crying out for His return as openly-acknowledged King.

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A tale of two young women

Today is my little girl’s birthday. Only, she’s not a little girl any more. She’s a young woman, a year away from university graduation. Two days ago a young man asked her to marry him, and she accepted.

Bethany’s birthday is one day before mine, and I remember thinking when she was born that by the time she was grown up I would be sixty. At the time, that seemed an impossibly long time in the future, but here we are. I turn sixty-one tomorrow, and Bethany is now twenty-two years old, and looking forward to a wedding.

The engagement was not a surprise; Marion and I have known for months that this day would be coming soon, and we are delighted. Still, Bethany’s engagement is a sign of the shifting of the seasons. She is the youngest of my children, my only daughter, the only one of our children who still lives with us, and the last to get married. Soon the transition to the next generation will be complete.

A few weeks ago, my oldest granddaughter turned five. Although Marion and I weren’t able to make the trip to Kansas City for her birthday, we Skyped as she was opening some of her presents. She had been excited about her birthday for weeks in advance, and as young children tend to do, she was fully enjoying the moment.

A couple of days after Sophie’s birthday, I had a very significant dream. I had been reading Song of Songs every day for several weeks, seeking to appropriate the rich Biblical metaphor of the love relationship between Jesus and his bride. As a male, I used to find this image hard to relate to, but having a daughter who loves weddings has helped to change my perspective. God used a dream to open up this profound truth for me in a fresh way.

The dream featured two young women – my five year old granddaughter and my twenty-one year old daughter. I knew that God was using them to speak to me about my own life, and the life of every believer in Jesus.

In Scene One, I saw an image of Sophie on her birthday. She was fully occupied with her gifts and was delighting in the pleasures of a happy childhood. The scene then shifted to an image of Bethany. At the time that I had this dream, she was not yet engaged, but somehow I knew that she was thinking about her upcoming wedding.

As I considered the fact that Bethany would soon be married, I began thinking about my own marriage, and about Jesus’ teaching that there would be no marriage at the resurrection. This has always seemed odd to me. I have been married to the same woman for almost thirty-eight years now. What will it be like to meet her at the resurrection and no longer be married to her?

Then I woke up. When I asked the Spirit about the dream, this is what He showed me.

Sophie is going to grow up and become an adult, but at the moment she could not even begin to comprehend the various issues and realities that she will deal with as an adult. She is fully occupied with being a child. She may believe that she will become an adult, but she has almost no conception of what this will be like. Although she may imagine it at times, and imitate her Mom, her imaginary games are far from the reality.

Bethany has been coming to understand some of the realities of adulthood over the past few years. She loves little children, she enjoys playing with Sophie, and she can still enjoy the memory of being five, but she has no desire to go back. She is looking forward to a wedding and the life of a bride that will follow, and that is her focus now, not her former life as a five year old.

In the same way, it seems strange to you now to think that in the age to come, there will be no marriage as we know it now. You know you are the bride of Christ but it is hard for you to imagine what this will be like. The present reality of marriage is only an analogy for what is to come – a dim image, a shadow. It is important now, just as Sophie’s five year old life is important to her now, but in the future it will be only a memory. Right now you cannot really imagine the marriage supper of the Lamb, or life in the age to come, though you believe these things are coming. But when you get there, you will look back and remember what it was like in this age, but you will have absolutely no regrets. Press on for the hope of your calling.

This dream has had a powerful motivating impact on me over the last few weeks. It has helped me keep my focus on what God has in store, not only in this age but in the age to come. If our horizon is limited to this life, it is hard to stay motivated as we grow older because pain and death are all we have to look forward to. But God has made us for eternity. What we see now is only a shadow of what is to come. Our hope is not that we are going to heaven. Of course if we die before Jesus returns, we will be with Him while we are waiting, but our hope is far better than that. Our hope is that He will return to restore all things, and that we will live with Him on a fully renewed earth.

These things are hard for us to grasp fully. Like five-year-old Sophie pretending to be a grownup and imagining her own wedding, we have only glimpses of what it will be like. It is natural that our life in this age is important to us now, as Sophie’s five-year-old life is important to her now. God wants us to live that life to the full, but it is not all there is. He has much bigger and more glorious things in store for us in the age to come.

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