The end of the year gives us closure and yes, hope… hope and expectation of something better to come. This reminds me of a heart-warming life story of hope, devotion and trust.
Some three years ago, Mrs Leong and I were in a little town in East Asia where she was teaching in a training centre. The locals told us a moving story of purity and life-long devotion, noble and somewhat incredible through the eyes of a world made cynical by “selfism” and individualism.
The “Mountain-and-Water” people of this picturesque county had, in the past, a strong tradition regarding purity and devotion to marriage. It was also a tradition for young men in this isolated mountainous region to venture out to the outside world to do business and bring home honour and glory to the community, village and especially to one’s family.
The story is told of a woman who had just gotten married. The couple only spent one night together as husband and wife. The next morning, the young man ventured forth to make his fortune, leaving with her bride one hundred pieces of copper coins as a pledge to return.
The new bride had to daily serve her mother-in-law and do house chores while praying for her husband’s return. Years and tears went by but her husband did not return (shame in failure to make it good might be the cause). She spent her nights weeping with the hundred pieces of copper coins as company in her small room. Each night and in total darkness, she would throw the coins to the floor. Then painfully but lovingly, she would feel her way around and gather the coins, one by one; only to repeat the same ritual the next night. No thought of remarriage ever entered her mind, although she was still so young. Sixty years passed and she died. After her death, beneath her pillow, they found the one hundred pieces of copper, now worn paper-thin, the pledge of her loved one who never returned.
The true story has obvious spiritual parallels for us, God’s people. The single-minded devotion and purity of the one-day bride reminded us that we (the church) too are the bride, pledged to our Lord (Rev 19:7; Eph 5:27). Our Bridegroom too has gone away. He too has left a pledge to return. “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Rev 22:12)
The pledge is not with silver nor gold but sealed with the precious blood of the Lamb. Our Lord’s Word is absolutely trustworthy. God’s Word and the fulfilments of innumerable prophecies through the ages undergird His pledge to us. Our Lord’s Return draws near. The signs are unmistakable. The bottom line for me is although we do not know the exact time and day, we, His people, are to be prepared for the day of His Return.
The words of George MacDonald should resonate with us: Come to me, Lord; I will not speculate how Nor think at which door I would have thee appear, Nor put off till my floors are swept, But cry, ‘Come, Lord, come any way, come now’…
For us the bottom line should be: “Not when He returns,” but “How then should we live in the light of His Return?” 2014 might have been a year we had failed our Lord… in our devotion, trust and walk. It’s in such dark times of failures and sins that like King David we plead, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps 51:10). The Lord will honour our brokenness and repentance before Him. Then will we be able to join all God’s people to declare expectantly and joyfully: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).
By Dr Leong Chee Lu (YCKC Bulletin 27&28 December 2014)