A few weeks ago, I watched a movie about a woman who suddenly was faced with a crisis. She had a successful career and a great marriage when she found out that her husband decided to divorce her. He had been having an affair for a number of years. He also got the house and a chunk of her finances, and she was left in a tough position, living in temporary housing on her own. Her dream had been shattered, and she spent a year wondering how to put her life back together again. She was afraid to date, afraid to get back into working, afraid to take new steps socially.
A friend offered her an already-bought trip to Italy. She initially said no, then, when the depths of her misery and isolation hit home, she decided to take the offer. Away she went. The next thing you know, she starts to get intuitions and providential signs to do something crazy: buy an old, run-down house there and somehow get married in it. She plans out the costs and logistics, and despite the imaginable obstacles, it all seems to miraculously work out, and the sale is done. Over the course of still wondering what is really happening, she brings in workers to renovate who become like family, she builds relationships with the neighbors, she fails in a new romantic relationship, and the best friend who gave her the original Italy trip in the first place comes over with her newborn baby looking to start her own life over. Finally, at the end, there is a wedding in her house. She has taken one of the workers in who had no family, and he has gotten married. She meets a new guy. And she looks around and sees her new life, with these relationships, and although there is more still to unfold, she realizes, “This is everything that I’ve really wanted.” And it’s not what she used to have. It’s a fulfillment of what she used to have.
I am going to give you a cheat sheet on the Old Testament that will help you to remember some basics. Beginning roughly around 2000 BC, every 500 years, roughly speaking, something important happens. Around 2000 BC, Abraham is called, like a seed planted in the ground. Around 1500 BC, Moses takes the descendants of Abraham out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, like a shoot sprouting out of the ground. In 1000 BC, David is king of the descendants of Abraham and Israel’s Kingdom is at its zenith: the tree is in its fullest bloom. Then, around 500 BC, the Assyrians destroy the two Kingdoms of Israel – which has divided – and the tree is cut down. So, now we get to the birth of Jesus.
That’s when everyone is depressed and hoping for the anointed Messiah to come. For what? To bring the Kingdom back. They want back what they had lost so long ago. So, when Jesus is walking around with all that miraculous power, people – even the disciples – are thinking about how to get that Kingdom restored, how to get back what they used to have: that old, zesty married life with God. It wasn’t until they got the Holy Spirit and learned how to follow the Spirit of God that they could start to see that they were stepping out toward something new: a new shoot was sprouting from the stump of the tree. They were going to get everything they really wanted, but it wouldn’t be what they used to have. It would be a fulfillment of it.
But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. (Is 11:1)
When Jesus speaks to the apostles in John’s Gospel before the Last Supper, he talks about his Father’s house having many rooms, and coming again to take the apostles to himself. All of that language is the language of a marriage proposal. He is saying, there is no going back – there is a new type of marriage on the horizon. And it will be a fulfillment. Everything that Israel has ever really wanted.
When God brings an end to something we’ve wanted in our life, it is always painful. We need to grieve the loss. But when the time is right, He will send a new lead, a call to get back up onto a new path. There is no going back to what has ended. But if we follow His call, He will lead us to everything we’ve really wanted in our lives.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” (Jn 14:1-4)