The most beautiful love story…

I sat in the balcony of a chapel with a lump in my throat feeling the warm tears stream down my face as I watch a stunning bride sitting on shoulder of her husband. She wore a veil so long it was covering over 20+ people behind her and could have covered a lot more. There is something so incredibly breathtaking about a bride, groom and a wedding. Most girls dream of their weddings when they are 5, 6, or 7 years old.

For some girls this is all there is: getting married, being a good wife and raising well behaved kids. There is nothing wrong with these desires. None of these things are bad, but there is a grander picture.

I’d like for you to imagine for a minute that you are a guest at a wedding. The music starts. The bridesmaids come down- one by one. Then the flower girl. The wedding march begins. The doors open and upon seeing the bride- a gasp echoes through the sanctuary. The bride’s dress is completely tethered. You cannot even detect the color of the dress due to the damage she put it through. Strands of her knotted and un-kept hair keep falling to the left and right and she tries to fix it every few seconds. She is a complete mess. Her one shoe strap is broken so she is dragging one as she endeavors to walk straight and elegantly down the aisle. She knows she is the center of attention. Unfortunately, she does not know how badly she looks and more importantly how grieved her groom looks as he sees his tarnished bride. His heart, you can see, is broken. This is not only her day-it’s his as well.

Today, I feel like this expresses the state of the church. Isaiah 54:5 says, “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called”. 2 Corinthians 11:2 says, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”. I believe the church- God’s Bride-has taken advantage of His grace. We spend our time making ourselves comfortable. Before I go any further, please know that I am not writing this to bash the church. I am the church. I am writing this to myself because I am at fault. I struggle with watching documentaries of evil going on in the world because it “ruins” how I “feel” the rest of the day. I struggle to know how to help those who are hurting. I struggle with speaking up and speaking out- BUT I do not want to show up to the courts of God with my dress tethered, my shoes broken, and my hair in complete disarray. I do not want to bring sorrow to my groom. I want Him to see me and to smile from ear to ear. I want Him to know that I gave Him everything. I want Him to know that I waited and held myself for Him and Him alone. If I am His bride, my job is to bring Him glory.

Proverbs 4:12 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, But she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.”

I want to be a crown on Jesus’s head. I want to be the crown Jesus can take off and place at the Father’s feet. I look at the church and my own life and it brings me to tears. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love Him and to love one another. Most of the love I see in the church is for money.

I realize that money is easier to achieve because quite frankly, people are messy and are hard to keep as friends. Our emotions, thought and behaviors vary from day to day. People are hard to love- I am hard to love at times. Ask my family or my co-workers. Everyone has tendencies that are hard to love. We think we are better than each other but in James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” I am guilty of it all: murder, adultery, hypocrisy, gossip, slander. These are ugly words. But the good news is, 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God’s love covers a MUTITUDE of sin. That’s what we should be doing for one another. The bride should be the one who covers each other in love. Just like when I saw the husband lift up his bride and the veil covered the people behind us- this is the legacy I want to live.

To be the bride of Christ is an unattainable calling. It’s too high for us. But God see us as the finished product and with Christ as our priest, husband, leader, and teacher- all things are possible. We can look to our groom because He is the one that set the example.

When I saw this beautiful bride, I thought of how selfless her husband was as he lifted her on his shoulder. She was his glory because He chose her. He wanted her best, he received joy in seeing her thrive and shine. Her beauty was even more radiant because she was resting on His shoulder. As Christians, we are the Bride of Christ. God does this for us. He sees us, knowing we are just dirt, knowing we are beaten and broken and utterly helpless we are and He has compassion. He reaches down exactly where we are at. He picks us up, wipes us off and then wraps us in robes of righteousness. He sacrifices everything for us. He takes the insults we spew at Him and yet, He continues to love us. He knows that we are so broken we cannot understand His love. He knows that the goodness He is displaying is incomprehensible to us. We’ve never seen unconditional love- how can we recognize it through tainted eyes? But slowly, over time, He removes one scale at a time and allows us to see. And even when we start to see we still can’t understand why someone would want this dirt. But He faithfully pursues and faithfully loves and then He covers us with His blood so that we are made clean. Then set us on His shoulders to shine. Why? Why would someone perfect choose someone imperfect? Why would Love pick the unlovely? Why would Faithful and True pick the unfaithful and deceived? Why? Because that is who He is. He is God and there is no other! He is Savior and He is in the business of rescuing and saving those who could never save themselves! Isaiah 54:5 say, “…thy Redeemer…”

The example of Christ is the ONLY reason we can be His bride. He is the one who shows us how to get ready. He is the one who leads us into time of prayer, worship and repentance. He shows us grace so that we can show others grace. He shows us love so we can show others love. Of all the love stories in the world- this is the most beautiful one, and we get to play a part in it- Let’s not miss out. It’s time to get ready!

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When change comes…

Isn’t it amazing how fast we change, yet we hate it when things around us change. For example, I found a prayer that said, “Dear God, no matter what happens, give me the heart that is willing to obey You; whatsoever the cost may be”. I thought yes! Lord, help me to obey You no matter the cost may be. Then things started to shift around me and I did not like it. My first reaction was to fight the change and do everything possible to keep things the way they are. I thought to myself- why do things have to change? I don’t like this!! I felt as though God said, “I’m pruning you”. I thought Lord, again? Pruning can be very painful. And my journey in the past couple years has come with a lot of pruning.

When God prunes He often takes things away. When I pray, “God, help me to be obedient to your will no matter what the cost”, God wants to see that lived out in my life. He does not want lip service. He did not give lip service. And if I am His follower, I cannot just give lip service. If I am just saying things and not backing them up, I am not a true follower. I would just be categorized as a fan.

I prayed, Lord, you know how much I love this, but You know what is ahead, and you know what training I need for the future, so if it more of this and less of that, so be it. Does that take the sting away, no, but it does bring peace and an ability to rest and let God take the reins. God knows each one of our heart’s desires. If He takes one thing away and gives us something less appealing, there is a good reason for it. God does not do ANYTHIING without a purpose. I know He is faithful and good and He loves me more than anyone on this whole planet. So, during times of pruning that’s what I need to hold on to.

God’s Faithfulness-

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations

Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

God’s Goodness-

Psalm 31:19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind!

Psalms 143:10 Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Psalms 145:9 The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.
God’s Love-

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness