In Bible study, we're currently looking at Jesus' teachings and what they meant in the context of his surroundings and the historical time period. Something that I found really fascinating was the comparison that Jesus used of himself being a bridegroom who was leaving to prepare a place in his father's house for his bride. In Jewish custom, when a man was ready to marry, his family would gather the resources for him to pay the "bride price" for his bride. He would go to this girl and they would share a glass of wine together signifying the covenant of their future marriage. He would then tell her that he was going back to his father's house to build a place for the two of them to live. While he was away, this girl learned all that she needed to know about being a wife and waited eagerly for the return of her husband. She did not know the exact day of his return, but she was expected to be always ready.
I think this is just a really incredible picture of what God is doing for us, the church - his bride. He has committed himself to us and is at this very moment preparing in heaven a place for us to be with him. Coming to this realization that Jesus loves me so much that the "bride price" he paid for me was his life has made me desire to be constantly preparing myself to be ready for his return. Everything I do on this earth should be in preparation for the kingdom that I will be welcomed into in heaven.
This means that every relationship that I have is an opportunity to share God's love and to build up his kingdom here on earth. My life has purpose and meaning beyond the worldy pursuits of a husband, kids, a good job, retirement, recognition, health... the list could go on. These things are not bad in themselves, but without submitting them to God's will, pursuing them alone will never be fulfilling.