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Set your heart on reunion

By George O. Wood

Right now we are absent from the Lord. (See 2 Corinthians 5:6.) Though He is with us all our days (Matthew 28:20), our senses do not apprehend Him. We can’t see Him, touch Him, or hear Him — at least not in the flesh.

When you are away from one you love, every longing within you cries out for reunion. You are incomplete because you are alone and apart.

Think of the sorrow in the Upper Room on the evening Jesus prepared His closest companions for the sad news that He was leaving them. He knew their hearts were troubled and afraid. (See John 14:1,27.) He acknowledged their sorrow in anticipation of their separation from Him: “Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief” (John 16:6, NIV). But Jesus kept directing the disciples’ attention toward the future. “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16:20-22). “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Notice the emotional words Jesus used to describe the tremendous sorrow caused by His absence: troubled hearts, grief, pain, anguish, weeping and mourning.

Oh the unlimited joy when this dark night of separation is over. True, the Lord sent us another Comforter in the blessed Holy Spirit; and true, Jesus works with us and His invisible presence dwells in us. But to see Jesus face to face — never more to be apart!

When someone you love has left you, your thoughts inevitably turn toward what that loved one is doing now. Why has he or she gone away? For those we love who have died, we console ourselves with the simple explanation they are with Jesus, resting in His arms and safe in His heaven.

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But the Scriptures give us specific insight into what our Lord is doing in His absence from us. He entered heaven with His own blood and secured for us an eternal redemption. (See Hebrews 9:12.) He presently is interceding for us. (See Romans 8:34.) How we need His prayers. He is preparing a wonderful place for us — so special that words stagger describing the glistening city of palaces and the gardens of delight He is building for those who love Him. (See John 14:2; Revelation 21.) He sends the Holy Spirit to fill and empower us. (See John 16:7.) Although He physically remains at the right hand of the Majesty on high, He is working with us. (See Mark 16:20.)

Yet with all these benefits from His care over us during His absence, we still long for the moment when the separation will end. Jesus himself placed this yearning for His appearing in our hearts.

Think of that great day when —

• “He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

• “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52).

• “The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

What a glad day. How our hearts turn toward home when we begin to meditate upon our reunion with Jesus.

“Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20,21).

Alexander MacClaren, the great Scottish preacher, declared that the Early Church thought more about the second coming of Jesus Christ than about death or heaven. They were not looking for a cleft in the ground called a grave, but for a cleavage in the sky called glory. They were not looking for the undertaker, but the upper taker.

For 20 centuries one generation of believers has been calling forward to the next, “Christ is coming again!” Louder and louder the voices grow, and more insistent as the days go by. One day the shout of triumph will be heard as the last generation’s cries form the depths of joy: “He has come!”

The Day of Pentecost was the last time the Church was under one roof, but we will soon all be in one place again: at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Picture that banquet hall, so vast it stretches as far as the eye can see, but so intimate each feels a part. Look at the tables set with the linens, dishes and utensils of heaven, ornamented with dazzling elegance and beauty. Banners stream from the vaulted ceilings, and visual delight presses on the senses from the rainbows of color fashioned from the palette of the master Artist. The room is breathtaking in its beauty.

Throughout the banquet room orchestras are playing instruments known and unknown with such symphony in praise. Harps are singing, chimes ringing. Bells and horns, lutes and violins, dulcimers and clarinets. And from time to time the instruments die down so the vast angel choirs positioned throughout the assembly room break in with such melody of joy and praise to God as to banish every memory of the pain-filled night of earth.

The tables are for the guests: those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. They are clothed in white. But perhaps if you looked closely enough, you might notice that the white seems to miraculously change for an instant into their earthly dress — the simple browns and blacks of peasants and prisoners.

A powerful angel steps to the rostrum and announces to the assembled crowd: “Please stand at your place. The meal will begin momentarily.”

A hush falls in the room. We look at those standing near us and further out to the vast tapestry of guests in grand assembly. We note faces of joy all around and eyes that glisten with happiness.

Entering now to the head table are the company of apostles, prophets and martyrs who bore the burden in the heat of the day and remained faithful. Then the moment comes. The last earthly guest is standing at his place. Another mighty angel announces the entry of the honored Guest: “I present to you the King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus of Nazareth!” Trumpets begin their fanfare, and myriads of angels lift their harmony of hallelujahs. A heavenly honor guard waving flags and streamers fills the hall.

He enters, majestic in His beauty. The Son of Man, the Son of God strides to His place of honor. Silence falls. His voice breaks the stillness: “Welcome to My Marriage Supper. Let us take the cup of consummation.”

Together with Him, saints of all ages, nations, languages and cultures, from villages and cities, from farms and desert places — all will take the chalice and lift our golden cup in toast to Him and His finished work. Redemption’s saga is complete, and the eternal age has opened before us.

There are still invitations to be made to that feast. The guest list is yet incomplete. The Lord has given us the privilege in the Great Commission of inviting all to that reunion. Our knowledge of that great reunion with Christ fills us with urgency to obey His command that we take the gospel to every person no matter where they live, what their age, the language they speak, their color of skin, their gender, their economic status, the condition of their health or the false gods they have served.

In the mean time, do I really miss my Lord, or have I settled down in too much comfort? Do I really ache for those now outside His family — so much so that I’ll renew every effort to bring them to that great reunion?

I want to be at that Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and I don’t want a single person to miss it.

George O. Wood, D.Th.P, is general secretary of the Assemblies of God.

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