Preparations

I stayed in the home of a bride-to-be. It was an interesting experience, and not interesting only, but instructive. She was a capable girl and carried out all her house duties as she had always done, but it was evident that the coming looked-for day filled her thoughts, and all her leisure was filled up in preparation for it. If she went out she did it with a purpose, either a visit to the dressmaker's establishment or to make purchases of new and needful things, and if she stayed at home she kept her needle busy. Certainly she wasted no time. She was to live in a distant town and there the happy, expectant bridegroom was just as busy as she. All the time that he could snatch from his day's work was spent in preparing the home for his bride and a daily letter reported his progress. I could not help being interested — who would not have been? — even though it is the sort of thing that is happening every day and in every land.

But the instructive part of it to me was, that two brief words of Scripture were brought forcibly to my mind by it. The first was words that came from the Lord's own lips. Said He, "I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). The second is said of His bride. "The marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready" (Rev. 19:7). Preparation in heaven and preparation on earth!

We have no doubt as to what lay behind these words of the Lord. It was that love of His that will not be satisfied until the marriage day comes. And what a glad surprise His bride will get when she enters that eternal home. Her eves will not rest on a single thing or scene that is not perfect, all the fruit of a perfect love: a home prepared for her joy by a love that surpasses all her thought. It seems to me that the Lord intends us to consider His words: it would be good for us to consider them every day. "I go to prepare a place for you." Will His love overlook one single thing in that home that will contribute to the joy of His bride? Not a single thing. All the preparation must be to make her absolutely and happily at home with Him. But it would not be home to her if He were not there, so those other words, "that where I am ye may be also." He, Himself, will be the all-absorbing Object there, His company her supreme joy, but everything within that home will bear the eternal impress of His love for His bride and His consideration for her.

But what of the other side — "His wife hath made herself ready"? His wife is His church, as Ephesians 5:25-32 clearly shows. What preparation is she making for the great day, and where do we see it? Of course, she could not make herself fit for heaven, or fit to be the wife of the Lamb, her fitness for that home of eternal love is Christ Himself. He is her righteousness. She did not chose Him but He chose her, and when He did so He purposed in His heart and according to God's own counsels to give Himself for her, even to death, not only that He might possess her without a rival for ever, but that He might redeem her from all iniquity and sanctify and cleanse her by the washing of water by the Word. Blood and water were both necessary if she was to be His spotless and glorious bride, and both flowed from His side when He died at Calvary.

Yet she makes herself ready for the marriage, just as the young bride of my story prepared for her wedding by her diligent stitching. "To her was granted, " says our Scripture, "that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints." The word, as is well known, should be in the plural. It is righteousnesses and not righteousness. What are righteousnesses?

First of all, and what lies behind them, and without which there could be none of them, is the thought, "What will please Him?" How would He who is my Lord as well as the coming Bridegroom have me to appear? And such a question could only arise in the heart that loves Him.

We must begin there. That "first love" which the church at Ephesus lost must be revived in the heart of the bride if she is to make herself ready for the marriage day. It is as this "first love" controls her that she will cry with earnest expectation, "Come, Lord Jesus, " but along with that will be the diligent preparation that she be not found wanting in that day.

This fine linen, clean and white, is of imperishable beauty and the threads of it are "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, faith, meekness, temperance;" it is the life of Jesus reproduced in His saints on earth by the Holy Spirit that dwells in them, and every thread of it is a wonderful triumph for God. He will be able to show on that marriage day the reality of His work in His saints, and that Christ was enough for their hearts in spite of the world, the flesh and the devil.

It is evident that the thoughts of the Lord are upon His church on earth. "I go to prepare a place for you, " proves that, and the thoughts of His church must be upon Him if she is preparing for the hour of meeting and union with Him. We know that all is perfect on His side; on ours there is fickleness and failure, and yet we love Him and desire His approval. May God's Holy Spirit deepen this love for Him and increase our desires to be just what He would have us to be, that we may have a large part in this preparation for the marriage day.