Preparing to Meet Jesus
A Family Member
Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor.
When Abraham instructed his faithful servant to find a bride for his beloved son Isaac, he had only one criterion: Make sure you find a young woman who is in the family. His exact words were “Go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.”1 He didn’t say to his servant, “Travel all the lands in every kingdom, and find Isaac a wife that is drop-dead gorgeous, wealthy, smart, athletic, the life of the party, and a really good cook!” While surely he would have wanted his son’s bride to exhibit the qualities we’ve highlighted in this volume, the success of this mission was based first on her being a member of Abraham’s extended family. Why was that so important?
God had promised to give the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants forever. However, during the time of Abraham, the land was occupied by Canaanites, a broad term used to describe ten tribes that lived in the land. The Canaanites were wicked people that worshipped idols, sacrificed children, and glorified every kind of sexual perversion, to name just a few of their sinful patterns. Abraham had the wisdom to know that Isaac needed a godly wife and that such a woman wouldn’t be found among the pagan tribes surrounding them. So he sent his servant on a long trek back to Abraham’s hometown of Haran, where his brother’s family still lived.
Being a mother of three daughters, two of whom are at the age where they could meet their future spouses, I resonate with Abraham’s concern. As you can imagine, each of my daughters has a very different vision of the type of man she hopes to one day marry. There has been much discussion and prayer in our house over what the man of their dreams will be like and look like. But the one thing I always say with absolute conviction is “Make sure he is in God’s family!” The primary qualification is that he has to love Jesus with all his heart and be surrendered to the Lord and His will for his life.
Beauty fades; financial prosperity can come and go; athletic records will be broken by the next star. But a marriage centered on a shared love for Jesus will endure whatever life may throw at you. So when one of my daughters calls to tell me she is going on a date, the first thing I ask is if he is a believer. In other words, Is he in God’s family?
As I consider what it means to be in the family, I can’t help but think of my dad, Danny Lotz. As a teenager, he was an aggressive, six-foot-seven basketball player who started all four years on the basketball team at Northport High School on Long Island, New York, and played pickup basketball in Harlem every chance he got. All that hard work paid off when he received a full basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina. Tar Heel country! While playing under Coach Frank McGuire, my dad and his team had an undefeated season, winning the 1957 national championship in triple overtime against Kansas.
I obviously wasn’t alive at that time, but growing up, I saw the many perks my dad enjoyed from being a part of the Tar Heel’s basketball family: season tickets to athletic events, membership in the lettermen’s club, camaraderie with all the former and current players and coaches, a fiftieth anniversary ring ceremony honoring their dream championship season, photos of their team on display in the Dean Dome, an entire museum dedicated to UNC basketball, and the list goes on. Wherever legendary UNC coach Dean Smith was, if he saw my dad, he would stop everything to go talk with him. Because when you are part of UNC basketball, you are part of an exclusive family! When longtime head coach Roy Williams announced his retirement in 2021, many former UNC players made it clear that the school needed to hire a new coach within “the family.” They did!
As exclusive as the UNC basketball family is, or Abraham’s family was, God’s family is even more exclusive. Even so, anyone is welcome to join! It doesn’t matter what you look like—your height, your weight, your skin color. It doesn’t matter how many academic degrees you have or don’t have, how many championships you’ve won or lost, how much money is in your bank account or if you’re overdrawn, or whether the latest fashions are hanging in your closet or you can’t remember when you had new clothes. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve helped an old lady across the street, stopped along the road to fix someone’s tire, cooked a meal for a sick friend, or given time or money to a homeless shelter. None of these things matter, because it’s not about good works or good looks. It’s about your relationship with the Father.
When the trumpet sounds and the clouds part and Jesus Himself descends, the only people that will be taken up to meet Him in the air and forever live in His house are those who are members of His family! That is the picture God was painting when He had Abraham seek a bride for his son Isaac, mirroring His own search for a bride suitable for His Son.
Jesus isn’t the kind of princely bridegroom you read about in novels or see in movies, the kind that slays the dragon or fights off a villain or two to win the heart of the lovely princess. Our Bridegroom—the Son of God—came to this earth in human form, humbled Himself to leave glorious Heaven and be born in a stable, grew up, compassionately healed the sick, set free the demon possessed, raised the dead, led the sinner out of the path of destruction, and taught the hardest of hearts about the love of His Father. He was then rejected by His own people.2 They spit at Him, mocked Him, hurled insults at Him, whipped Him, beat Him, pulled out His beard, nailed Him to a cross, and speared His side. But Jesus, our Bridegroom, didn’t storm off; He didn’t yell back; He didn’t command them all to drop dead; He didn’t pour out His wrath on humanity right then and there. Instead, our Prince, our Bridegroom, received all the wrath and condemnation we deserved. He took our sins on Himself and bore the humiliation of the Cross so that we could be set free and become His bride!
Oh, how can we be deserving of such a gift, such a Bridegroom? That’s just it: We aren’t worthy in ourselves. But this is the greatest news anyone can ever tell you: Jesus did all the work on the cross, all that was necessary for us to receive forgiveness of sins—past, present, and future. To be in God’s exclusive family, all we have to do is believe and humbly accept His gift! Once we do receive this through faith in Jesus, “to those who [have] believed in his name, he [gives] the right to become children of God.”3
Before the dear servant set out on his journey, he asked Abraham what he should do if the woman he chose as the bride wasn’t willing to come back to Canaan and marry Isaac. Abraham responded by saying that the servant would then be released from the promise he’d made to find a bride for Isaac.4 In other words, he shouldn’t force her to come with him. The servant could choose a wife for Isaac, but then the potential bride would also have to willingly choose to come to Isaac’s home and be part of his family.
Abraham’s servant is like the Holy Spirit, coming to you with the most amazing offer imaginable. He offers you salvation in the name of Jesus! Will you accept? He won’t force you. You have free will to choose. Don’t delay; accept His free gift of salvation today! Make sure you are part of God’s family.Day 1 Challenge
If you don’t remember a time when you prayed a prayer like the one below, how do you know you are in God’s family? So on this first day, if you aren’t sure, pray this prayer now. Don’t wait another second! The Bridegroom is at the door. He’s coming in the blink of an eye. Make sure He’s coming for you!
Jesus, I believe! I want to be a member of Your Father’s family!
I believe that You died on the cross to forgive me of my sins and cleanse me. I believe that You rose from the dead and now offer me eternal life with You and that one day You will return as my Bridegroom and receive me into Your kingdom in Heaven. I confess to You that I have done wrong things, and I’m sorry. I’m willing to turn away from them. I’m asking that You come into my life today. I receive the eternal life You offer. Be my Savior, the Forgiver of all my sins, the Lord of my life, and my soon-coming Bridegroom!
Thank You, Jesus!
If you have the blessed assurance that God is your Father because you have trusted Jesus as your Savior and Lord, then take a moment now to thank Him for your place in His family.
Thank You for the confidence I have that I have met the most important criterion for being chosen as a bride for Your Son, Jesus. Not because of anything I am or have done but simply because I have placed all my trust in Him, I know I’m a member of Your family. Now I pray You will use the following twenty days of challenges to make me more pleasing to You in every way.
For the sake of the Bridegroom,
And in His name—Jesus,