Imagine you are a contestant on one of those matchmaking TV ‘reality’ shows, like ‘married at first sight’, and you are one of the brides-to-be.
As a contestant, you have been given detailed descriptions of each of the prospective grooms, including photographs, assessments of their strengths, weaknesses, finances, prospects, interests, work and personal values. Without meeting any of them personally, you get to choose which one you would like to marry.
Some are easy to eliminate. They don’t like cats or children or pizza. One or two come across as arrogant and self-entered. One is clearly a serious adventure seeker and you are not sure you could keep up with him.
But as you pour through the reports on each one, one just seems to stand out, to stick in your mind. He is not the best looking, or the wealthiest, or the fittest looking, but somehow his report gives the impression of a genuinely kind and amusing man. One who would listen and care. One you could share your innermost thoughts with and not be laughed at. One who would laugh and cry with you rather than at you. One you could enjoy doing life with. So you put him as your first choice.
Later that day you are informed he also choose you! You got your first choice! Your heart leaps with anticipation and nervousness. You so want to meet him, talk to him, and find out if he is really like you think. Yet you are also nervous that he will somehow not be what you thought him to be or that you will disappoint him in some way. Excited and nervous you wait for your wedding day meeting, pouring over his report and getting yourself as ready as you can.
The next day your wedding dress arrives. You put it on excitedly and are astounded. Never in your life have you had a dress that is so flattering. Even without the makeup and jewellery you will have on the day, you can’t believe how beautiful the dress makes you look. It is like a dream come true.
Then the wedding planner comes to see you and all their suggestions and arrangements are just the ones you would have chosen! The bouquets of red and white roses. The simple yet elegant wedding cake. The open air venue with a chapel, surrounded by native bushland. The music to your taste. And enough spaces to invite all those you would want to be there. It all seems magical and you are told the groom likes it too!
The wedding day comes and with it all the wardrobe team from the TV show. You are pampered, dressed, bedecked, made up and primped till you struggle to recognise the stunning beauty that looks back at you from the mirror.
Your bridesmaids and made-of-honour arrive looking just as spectacular as you expected. Their dark sky blue dresses have hints of sparkle here and there as thought there are stars hidden by the fabric and they too have been pampered, bedecked and primped. You greet them warmly and you laugh nervously together as you talk about the evenings events to come and how great it will be to have and intimate partner with which you can share the ups and downs of life.
The time comes to leave for the wedding and you all climb into the special white cars waiting for you and drive to the chapel in the bush.
At the door you meet and greet your father. “I am so proud of you!” He says.
The wedding march music begins and the bridesmaids followed by the maid of honour start down the central aisle. As you enter the chapel you see a sea of faces smiling at you, some with the hint of a tear in their eye. Looking past them all you look down further to see the groom and your heart skips a beat. You can see the best man and groomsman but no groom! In fact, about where you would expect the groom to be standing there is simply a very large book!
“What is going on?” You whisper to your father. “Nothing!” He says, “It is all fine! Just keep going and you will see.”
So wondering if you are really on “Candid Camera” or some other trickster TV show you keep going to the front with your eyes on the book in disbelief. When you get to the alter your father leaves you standing beside the book. Smiling he says again, “Don’t worry!” And walks to the front row where your mother is standing smiling. You look around at the congregation and they are ALL smiling. No one seems at all surprised or bothered by the fact that the groom has been replaced by a book! How could you leave now? What would look more stupid, running out or marring a book? Fixed in place by the shock of it all you remain.
The minister steps forward smiling and nodding and says, “Please be seated,” to the crowd and they sit. The minister then proceeds to go through the wedding ceremony as though the book was the groom. And when the groom was needed to respond, the right words, like “I do,” appeared on the top cover and the best man said, “The groom says “I do”. It was all so surreal that it felt like you had been planted into a weird horror movie. You kept waiting for someone to jump up and say, “Smile! You’re on candid camera!” and the book to be replaced by a smiling groom. But it never happened. And when you left the chapel for the wedding marquis, you left carrying this very large book and placed it on the grooms seat.
As the wedding celebrations took place you asked people what was going on. Why were they celebrating the fact that you had just married a book? And all of them just laughed and said, “You’ll be fine! You”ll see! Just read the book and do what is says. That is the way we all do it!”
The grooms speech was made by the best man reading from the book. The nightmare just went on and on.
As it became time to leave, you picked up the book and got into a car and drove off with the guests all cheering you off. And going into the bridle suite at the hotel the show had arranged for you that night it was just you and the book, alone, with a bottle of champagne, a basket of fruit and chocolates. You put the book down on a chair, pour yourself a glass of champagne and sit down.
Sitting down in front of the book, sipping champagne and eating chocolates, you open it and begin to read. Maybe in the book will explain what just happened?
In the book you find your groom’s life story detailed. His birth, his childhood, his schooling, his family, his career as a carpenter and then teacher, his search for a bride and how he found and chose you. Then it described the home he built for you, a mansion on the top of a hill in your favourite town. It even had a list of the rules he used to live by and was hoping his wife would embrace!
Then the story took a strange turn. For rather than stay for his wedding, he had given the best man his book and had been called home to live with his father again. And it turned out his father was a king and he was a prince! Not only that, but his father had decided to retire from ruling and had given all the authority of his kinship to the prince! His father was still there to guide and be with his son but the prince now had all the king’s authority and power! How exciting to be married to a king-prince! Maybe he would send for you and it would all be ok? A happy ever after tale?
Fortified with strawberries, chocolate and more champagne you read on in hope.
Next comes the description of how the two of you will live and reign forever together, in his house built just for you, enjoying the intimacy and love that only real partners in life can have. It is such a beautiful picture that you begin to cry in relief. He does love you and does want to do life with you!
And that is where the book ends! “What?” You cry, “But how do I get there? Is he coming for me? What do I do now?” Silence. No one is there to answer. Exhausted you fall despondently into be and go to sleep.
The following morning you crawl out of bed, shower, eat breakfast and pack, ready to go on your honey moon. Still trying to work out what you have read and make sense of it, you pick up the book and head off to your tropical island honeymoon escape. Perhaps if you study the book more carefully, without the aid of too much champagne, you will get it. So out you head, book in hand, to the airport.
On the plane you have two first class seats next to each other, one for you and one for ….. the book. Sighing, you dump the book and your bags in it and settle back to enjoy all the luxuries the flight had to offer.
After landing you are whisked to the bridal suite of a well known local resort, and ignoring the slightly puzzled look on the face of the bag carrying boy, you dump your bags and the book, grab your handbag and bathers and towel bag and head out to explore. You wander the streets of the local town, looking at all the tourist ware for sale. You have lunch in a quaint local restaurant, enjoying the fresh seafood. You spend the afternoon on one of the local beaches enjoying the sun and surf. But all of it is done, alone. And as evening falls you head back to the hotel.
One drink at the bar and the loneliness creeps in. Strange men look at you enquiringly so you flash your wedding and engagement rings, looking away but it all becomes too much. You hurriedly head back to your room, ordering room service for two, just to keep up the charade.
Watching house movies, you eat what you want of the two dinners and drink the wine as the loneliness of your situation sinks in. Crawling into bed you determine that tomorrow you will read the book again to see if it makes more sense.
After breakfast you head down to the couches by the pool, book in hand, to read. You choose a couch, order a coffee and settle down to read. Reading carefully, you again read the book from cover to cover, and though you are now quite sober, the story remains the same. Your groom planned to marry you in person but had been called home to rule instead. No explanation of what would happen next or how you could be reunited. Maybe living life by his rules would help? Sighing you put the book down and go for a swim in the pool.
Coming out of the pool to seek lunch, you notice a good-looking young man has taken up residence on the couch beside yours. Just to be polite, you smile and say “Hello.” He smiles and answers, “Hello.” to you. Sitting down you look for the lunch menu but it is no longer on the table beside you. Turning to the young man you say, “Have you seen the lunch menu? I want to order some food.” “Yes,” replies the young man, “I was just going to order some food and put the menu over here,” picking it up from the table the other side of him. As he hands the menu to you he says, “Would it seem very strange if I asked you to have lunch with me here? My girlfriend was supposed to come with me on this holiday but instead she ditched me the day before we were due to leave so I am a bit short of company.” “Sure,” you reply, “I’m in a similar boat. This was meant to be my honeymoon but my husband was called home to help his father and so I came alone too.” “Oh, how disappointing!” He replied, “Let’s get lunch!”
So you both order lunch and chat about life together and the strange circumstances which bought you together were left behind as you discovered how much you had in common interests. You had similar tastes in books, movies, music and even TV shows. It was such a great conversation you agreed to go and see tourist sights together that afternoon. And after that it seemed only natural to have dinner together.
For the rest of the week you and the young man spent your days an evenings together. You swam together, shopped together, went to tourist sights together and ate together. It all seemed so natural and fun. The only time it got a bit awkward was the evening he suggested you could spend the night together too but your firm ‘thanks but no thanks’ ended that. After all, you were still married, or at least that is what all your documents said. And fidelity in marriage was one of your husbands ‘rules to live buy’.
Occasionally, in the late evening or early morning, you take out the book again and browse through a few pages but nothing becomes clearer.
When the week and your honeymoon time was over you said goodbye to you new friend and went home. He gave you his contact details, “just in case things don’t work out with your husband…” but you dropped them in the nearest bin as you went to board your plane. No need to keep them you hope.
Back on home soil you head home. Home to your old apartment and your job and your old life, hoping that things will change, and you will be with your new husband. But as the days go by nothing changes. At first friends, family and people at work ask about the honeymoon and the new husband but the evasive answers you give mean they soon give up. As you make excuse for the absence of your husband at social events you see people’s expressions change from surprise to that being the expected norm.
Days turn into weeks and then years with no sign of your husband appearing. Gradually you have given up even looking at the book and put it away in the back of your cupboard. In the evenings the loneliness of it all haunts you. Why did they bother with the wedding ceremony if he had no intention of ever turning up? What is the point if he is never there with you? How can have a relationship, friendship, intimacy and children with a book? Even the rules to live by seem just pointless restrictions as all fuss and wonder of the wedding fades into oblivion.
Some of your family and friends tried to encourage you to work on your relationship, maybe even get counselling. After all vows had been made. But it was the book that had really made the vows and there was no point in talking to a book.
Eventually, you give up waiting for your husband to turn up. The wedding vows and the promises and pictures of a life together in the book seem just empty façades. That is when you stop making excuses for the lack of a husband at social event just explaining the relationship ‘did not work out’ and that your husband had ‘left’. And you go back to life as a single person again.
This is the situation too much of the Christian church lives in today. They have been told they have a personal relationship with Jesus and that He has saved them, lives inside of them, and will one day be their spiritual husband, but they have also been told that He does not speak or appear or visit people today, now, in any way, because we have the Bible. Through the Bible alone we are supposed to have a personal relationship with Jesus and God. Yet that very same book is full of the personal encounters, visions, conversations, and even arguments that other people have had with God. And thought the book itself never claims it, we are indoctrinated with the belief that all those things are past and we will not personally experience God or Jesus till we are dead. Instead our relationship is to consist of reading the book and following it’s ‘rules for life’.
Personal relationship is replaced with dead religion. Living in the Presence and Power of Jesus resurrection is replaced with simply doing what looks like good works. No wonder so many Christians are exhausted and feel powerless to change the world! Trying to do God’s work for Him but without Him is exhausting and ultimately impossible. The Christianity too many people have been taught is simply a watered down version of the Jewish Law with Jesus taking the place of the sacrificial system. It downgrades Jesus sacrifice to simply a whitewash of our sins for now and a ticket to heaven when we die. AND THAT IS THE MOST APPALLING LIE!
“Eternal life means to know and experience you as the only true God, and to know and experience Jesus Christ, as the Son whom you have sent.
I am not asking that you remove them from the world, but I ask that you guard their hearts from evil, For they no longer belong to this world any more than I do.
You live fully in me and now I live fully in them so that they will experience perfect unity, and the world will be convinced that you have sent me, for they will see that you love each one of them with the same passionate love that you have for me. “Father, I ask that you allow everyone that you have given to me to be with me where I am! Then they will see my full glory— the very splendour you have placed upon me because you have loved me even before the beginning of time.
I have revealed to them who you are and I will continue to make you even more real to them, so that they may experience the same endless love that you have for me, for your love will now live in them, even as I live in them!””
John 17:3, 15-16, 23-24, 26 TPT
That is an abbreviation of Jesus’ prayer as he gathered with His disciples just before He was crucified. It is that eternal life NOW that the Amazing Exchange web site was created to help you enjoy. Doing life in unity with the Trinity, living in and experiencing the glory of Jesus, is the foundation of the eternal life Jesus is offering us NOW. Who would not want that?