By Jenny Manley
I wear high heels to weddings, not merely because the occasion calls for it, but because I’m not tall, and I hate not being able to see what is going on. When everyone stands in the bride’s honor and she triumphantly enters the ceremony in her gorgeous white dress and flawless appearance, it’s not the bride I’m trying to see. I’m looking for the groom.
I love to see his face at his first glimpse of his bride. She enters, they lock eyes, and he is overwhelmed with her beauty and their union till death they do part.
It is not just that I like to see a man unashamedly in love. But I also know how much preparation has gone into that moment, and the march down the aisle is the emotional culmination of so much work.
With great effort he pursued his love interest. He courted her, doted on her, and made her the object of his affection. He saved for a ring, sought the requisite blessing, and planned and executed his proposal.
She barely stopped moving after she said “yes”. She planned with precision the details of the wedding day. She had trial runs to perfect the look of her hair. She chose the perfect script for the invitation, and then the ideal postal stamp on the envelope to hold that invitation. The menu was carefully chosen down to the flavor of each layer of the wedding cake. She had her nails done and her eyebrows waxed. And of course she deliberated over “the dress”, which coordinated perfectly with “the shoes”. And then there were the flowers, the bridesmaids’ dresses, the music, and the photographer.
But marriage and the wedding day are not simply an end in themselves. God gave us marriage as a gift to help us understand Christ and his relationship to his bridegroom—the church. So has modernity ruined this picture of marriage by demanding the perfect wedding day? Has our culture’s emphasis on planning the ideal wedding eclipsed the significance of the ideal marriage? Or are our earthly preparations for marriage pointing to something greater in our spiritual lives?
Jesus’ followers all have an ultimate wedding day coming. We learn about it when we read Revelation 21:1-3:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
This ultimate wedding day requires preparation as well. God sent his son to earth to purchase his bride. He left heaven, lived a perfect life on earth, died for our sins, and was raised again in triumph over death. His bride toiled on earth, sometimes facing persecution and famine, sometimes in glorious spurts of revival and prosperity. But Christ preserved and persevered for the church in knowledge that one day she would dwell eternally with her heavenly Savior.
Now while we wait for that day, we prepare. We pray for his coming. We invite others to be part of this ultimate wedding. We demonstrate our affection for our groom by participating in the good works he set aside for us. We prepare our hearts to be with him as we learn to enjoy him and rest in his delight in us.
And one day, after all the preparation for this marriage, the church too will be dressed as a bride adorned for her husband. Although the dress worn will not be one that we spent months searching out, but will be provided by the groom himself. The church will be adorned in the righteousness of Christ and the works done in his name.
“…Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure’ –
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rev. 19:7-8).
On that ultimate wedding day the bride and groom will begin eternity together where the “dwelling place of God is with man” (Rev. 21:3). Can you imagine what it will be like to see Jesus’ face on that day? His beloved bride for whom he died will be dressed for her husband. My guess is that all eyes that day will be on the groom.
So, dear bride, prepare for your earthly wedding day. And as you pick out the dress and the photographer and the wedding cake, remember your calling to prepare even more diligently for that ultimate day. Preparations are already underway in heaven.
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