And The Bride Wore White

I really want to walk down the aisle in my own strength.

No, not physically – although I hope to do that too! 

I mean that I want to walk into the church on our wedding day ready to be a great wife: loving, faithful, kind, wise, etc. I want to be walking with God with perfect faith, obedience and maturity. I want to say my marriage vows without a shred of doubt that I can keep them perfectly. . .

 (I’m sure that most of you are already laughing at my idealism!)

Unsurprisingly when I look at my selfish sinful heart I don’t feel very confident.  I am aware of many areas of sin, faithlessness, and failure which will now affect another person! Left to myself I don’t feel sure that I can always love Tim “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health”, even though I desperately want to. 

So as I walk down the aisle to marry the man of my dreams, it is vital that I walk upon the beautiful and secure foundation that the Bible gives us.

running brideA Walk of Joy-filled Faith

As I mentioned in a previous post, marriage is actually a metaphor for something greater. It models Jesus Christ’s eternally loving and faithful marriage to his church (all those who love and follow him). 

A key symbol in both is the white clothing that the bride wears. We know that white symbolises purity and innocence, and many brides feel that the outward symbolism may not match the reality!  But the beautiful and freeing difference about the biblical picture is that the bride is given her white clothing to wear by her groom Jesus Christ – because he has purchased it for her at the cost of his own life! (See Ephesians 5:25-27, Isaiah 61:10, and Revelation 7:9-10)

The church may be unworthy, and full of sinful failure, but Jesus, her loving groom clothes her with beautiful robes that are perfect and white, and she is utterly radiant.

How does this biblical picture help me as I prepare to walk down the aisle in a few weeks time?

  1. I walk humbly. My own goodness is not enough. I need Jesus to clothe me and equip me to keep the sacred marriage  promises which point to his eternal promises to us.
  2. I walk confidently. Because my confidence is in God’s character and deeds, and not my own. He is faithful, good, and loving. My white clothing ultimately point to his perfection.
  3. I walk steadfastly. Jesus never leaves or forsakes his bride the church, and his love for her is unfailing despite her many failures. His faithfulness and love enables ours.
  4. I walk joyfully, rejoicing in the white that I wear and everything it symbolises, and full of thanks for the gift of marriage with this man whom God has entrusted to me. Our joy is increased in the knowledge that this earthly marriage bears witness (however insufficiently) to the perfect future marriage of Christ and his church.

 

Nim

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Our Perfect Day Won’t Be Perfect

During the last few months I’ve had the exciting task of planning my wedding. (It’s tempting at this point to spend the rest of this post talking about how wonderful my fiancé Tim is, but I’ll try to stay on topic!)

Those of you who have been involved in planning the wedding of a family member, friend, or of your own, may know the pressure to achieve “the perfect day”, an elusive aim that seems only to have grown more elaborate with the advent of wedding magazines, blogs, and fairs.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so I’ve had to really strive to maintain a balanced and godly perspective on wedding planning, but doing so has caused me to reflect upon my desire for perfection, and to realise that it points to something even more wonderful than the wedding itself.

The Best Laid Plans . . .

You see, however much I obsess over and plan the practical aspects of our wedding day, I already know that our perfect day will not be perfect. Perhaps it will rain, or some of our guests will be unable to come, maybe we’ll forget something, or make a mistake. Most of my married friends have amusing stories of things that didn’t quite go according to plan on the day, and I recently spotted an article online which advertised a “bridal emergency kit” containing more than 40 items in an effort to cover every eventuality!

WeddingAnd yet, even if everything should proceed flawlessly on the day, I must remember that this beautiful event is a metaphor, a picture that points to something higher and better outside itself. An event which will include everyone who loves and follows Jesus Christ: His wedding and eternally faithful marriage to his spotless and perfect bride – the church.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless . . . 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:25-32

The Perfect Day

On this wedding day there will be no shame and no imperfections or failures. The setting will be a redeemed and restored heavens and earth, flawless in its beauty. The bride will be radiant and completely without blemish. The all-consuming nature of her love will be life-giving and utterly fitting. In return the groom’s love will be selfless, staggering in its intensity, totally satisfying, and eternally faithful. Their love will make even the best earthly marriages look weak in comparison to its fullness and perfection.

In fact, as I meditate on this heavenly wedding, I’m even more excited about taking part in its earthly counterpart. Yet this also frees me from relentlessly striving for perfection on our earthly wedding day. If something goes wrong or it fails to live up to my expectations in some way, it won’t crush me because I know that it’s the dress rehearsal for a heavenly wedding that really will be perfect. And as I experience the incredible joy that I’m sure our wedding day will bring, I will be humbled to know that even this is only a foretaste of the joy to come – what a thought!

A Hope for All of Life

This is a principle which also holds true for the disappointments or failures or losses which we face in this life – and there are many. We take heart in the certain, joyful hope of that future perfect day when the whole, ransomed church of God will be radiantly married to her loving Lord and Saviour forever.

“Hallelujah!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
8 Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear.” Revelation 19:6-8

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:1-5

For now we are those who watch, and wait, and long for our perfect heavenly wedding day.

 

Nim

Waiting for a Sign

Last Sunday morning saw three people get baptised during the service.

Baptisms are always a joyful and emotional time. I love to hear people speak of how God has used a variety of circumstances – some spectacular, others ordinary, to call them into a restored relationship with himself. Baptism pictures this dramatic change of direction through the symbol of dying to the old self and rising again into new Christ-centred life, combined with the wonderful image of cleansing from sin.

In the Bible, baptism often occurred as soon as someone made the decision to follow God, but today we often wait before making this step.

During Sunday’s service, Clara spoke beautifully about her decision to be baptised after many years of waiting. Her testimony was challenging and helpful, and she has kindly given me permission to share it here:

As testimonies go, I’m not going to get any offers to have my story made into a film.

There have been no thunder bolts from the blue, no Damascus moments, no real dramas at all, just the gradual drip feed of God’s power throughout my life.

Why have I decided to become baptised now? I’ve spent many years waiting for the thunderbolt, the big moment that proves unequivocally that my faith was real and good enough, that I was good enough… I have been waiting to hear from God… to be shown some sort of sign…

When discussing this dilemma with my wonderful husband, he simply said, “Clara, I think the cross is the only sign we need”. And he is right.

I’m a bit embarrassed to get baptised at 35 after being a Christian all my life, albeit at times with a very small c, so I searched the bible for a get out clause. But it turns out Jesus didn’t say, “wait for a sign” or “after you get your Damascus moment” ; he said believe and be baptised . So here I am.

I want to acknowledge that I wouldn’t be here at all were it not for the loving encouragement and wonderful Christian example of my family. And for the last 12 years, my Church family here at Cambray – I want to thank you all for praying for me and supporting my journey.

Onwards and upwards then, or in the more eloquent words of Luke in Chapter 17, “The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say here it is or there it is, because the Kingdom of God is within you.”

Clara Hambling

If you’ve become a Christian, but are hesitating to be baptised, may I encourage you to take the plunge? (pun intended!)

It’s an act of obedience to God that encourages the church, and is a testimony of your changed life to others.

Don’t wait for a sign, the cross is the only sign we need!

Nim – with thanks to Clara Hambling