John 3:29a, “He who has the Bride is the Bridegroom.”
I woke up last Monday morning and said, “It is wedding week again!” Just seven weeks ago we celebrated the marriage of our fourth daughter Annie to her husband Tony. This week we are preparing to celebrate the wedding of our fifth daughter Grace to her fiancé Jared on Friday evening. It’s hard to describe the joy and excitement as the last-minute details fall into place and family and friends begin to arrive anticipating the happy occasion. One of our last minute details was to choose the menu for the celebration. On Sunday evening Grace, Jared, Val (Jared’s mom) and I were sitting at the venue tasting all of the delicious choices. As we finished up I heard Jared say, “Wow, five more days.” Initially Grace did not hear his words but I heard him and as he repeated his thought to Grace, I heard his heart. He spoke these words with almost unbelief. He had waited and now the special day was almost here. His words expressed a heart that longed to be married to his best friend and start life together! His demonstration of love for our daughter reminded me of our fourth daughter’s wedding just seven weeks before. Her quiet and reserved husband Tony was transformed as he could not stop smiling during the rehearsal and then as he stood at the altar waiting for his bride. His never-ending smile and Jared’s soft spoken words revealed their hearts, both were overcome with joy and gratefulness as they were so close to marrying their bride.
Over the last seven weeks I have seen and heard the transforming power of love as these two young men were waiting to be married to their chosen bride. Each wedding had its unique and special moments but the truth is everyone came to the wedding in anticipation of the first look of the bride as the doors open and she begins her walk down the aisle to her waiting groom. As the mother of the bride, I look to my beautiful daughter, but then I look to my soon to be son-in-law. What I care about is the heart of the groom and what I see in those eyes as he waits for my daughter, the bride.
Tony and Annie were wedding number three and Grace and Jared were wedding number four in our family. I feel like I am continually learning more of the love of God as I witness each covenant of marriage. As I shared my thoughts after our first wedding this year, my wise husband reminded me of how God used the word picture of the bridegroom (Jesus) who longs for His bride (us) to describe the kind of deep and lasting relationship He intended with each one of us.
All of this made me think of my own wedding day. The date was November 16, 1986. Rich and I had been engaged since July. We originally had plans for a summer wedding the following year but our hearts began to change as we arrived to our first duty assignment at Ft. Lewis, Washington in September. We quickly found a good church and decided to begin marriage counseling in October with hopes to be married early in December. We finished our marriage counseling on Thursday evening November 13th. The last question of the evening was “When would you like to be married?” My husband quickly responded with “as soon as possible”. The pastor then offered for us to be married the following Sunday evening ahead of the weekly Praise and Worship service. It was an easy decision as we felt compelled by God to marry earlier than planned and go home the following summer for the “Big Wedding.” So I had two days to find a simple but elegant dress, apply for our wedding license and pick a small bouquet right out of the cooler at the nearest florist. I had found a running buddy at the gym and Jean and I became quick friends. I asked her to stand up with me as my maid of honor. My husband actually had a former college friend from R.O.T.C. assigned to Lewis as well and so he had an easy choice for a best man. We decided the morning of our wedding day to phone Rich’s folks and let them in on our plan and ask for their blessing. We chose not to call my mother as she already refused to give us her blessing to plan an earlier wedding even though we told her we felt strongly it was what we were to do. So as early evening arrived we drove to the church and spent just a few minutes with the pastor and our small wedding party. The church was filling up and I began to get nervous. We hardly knew a soul but here we were just moments from entering into the covenant of marriage. What I did know was this commitment was for a lifetime. My own parent’s marriage was painful due to alcohol abuse and ended after 18 years of marriage. I had already made up my mind before I accepted Rich’s proposal of marriage that it would be for our lifetime. As we waited in the back of the church, Rich placed his strong-arm around mine and immediately my heart settled down and moments later the music began to play. My bridegroom walked me down the aisle and after reciting our vows we spent the next 30 minutes worshipping the Lord. As I remember our wedding day, I realize it was such a picture of how Jesus intends us to walk with Him, arm in arm, every day with His leading and our hearts worshipping Him in all things. He is to be my constant guide as I trust Him to protect me and never leave me. Our wedding was certainly not a traditional wedding service. In fact, you might say it was extremely unconventional. But as I asked the question at each of my daughter’s weddings, “What kind of love is this?” I now understand more fully the unconditional love of the Father who sent His son as the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus came in an unconventional way to earth. His own people denied who He was and yet God fulfilled His plan. Just as my son-in-laws longed to marry their bride, Jesus, the Bridegroom waits patiently, longing to be with His bride. God sent His Son to make a way for us to have an intimate, certain, forever relationship with Him.
If you have never accepted the invitation from the Bridegroom to be His bride, now is the time to respond…He is waiting.