“I’ll be the bride of Christ before I’m the bride of man.”
I wrote this in my prayer journal last summer. I love it, partly because it is so completely not something that I would have thought of that I know it was from God, but also because it reminds me who I’m living for, and where my priorities need to be in everything I do: with my Lord. Whenever I’m struggling to work out what direction my life is heading in, or am tempted to succumb to the world’s message that singleness should be a burden, I turn back to that page and my faith is restored.
I recently heard an incredible talk on why, when Jesus said at the Last Supper “this is my blood of the covenant” (Matthew 26:28), the disciples would have heard “Will you marry me?”
This blew my mind!!!!
Following the Jewish tradition – after an agreement between the fathers of both the man and woman had been made – a man proposed with those very words before offering the cup to his beloved. If she drank from it, it symbolised her acceptance of his proposal. The man would then return to his father’s house to build rooms for them to live in. When his father deemed them ready, the man would then return for his bride.
Think about it… Jesus offered the cup of the covenant to his disciples, told them that He was going to ‘prepare a place’ for them in His Father’s house (John 14:2), and promised “I will come back and take you to be with me” (John 14:3).
So if He's offered us the cup, and we've accepted it, then we can now await our wedding day. As women we can fairly easily picture ourselves in the white dress with the beautiful bouquet walking down the aisle to greet our future spouse. We know it will be the happiest day of our lives. As children we dreamt about it, at girly sleepovers we solemnly pledged our services as maids of honour, and as we got older we tried to picture it as a reality rather than a pipe dream.
But that day hasn’t come yet. That will be the culmination of our whole life on earth. Right now we must prepare ourselves for that day. For many single women this preparation stage is one of pain, disappointment and dwindling hope. Waiting for a husband can seem increasingly futile as the hopeful desire for marriage gives way to an agonising anxiety over whether that desire will be fulfilled.
With Jesus we need not be anxious. He has already proposed, and we know He will return for us. In case we are ever tempted to doubt His promise, He repeats that proposal each and every day in the mass. We are secure in the knowledge that, one day, we WILL kneel at the altar dressed in white to be united with Christ. So while we wait, we must focus on preparing ourselves.
I don’t know how you’ve pictured your wedding day – it’s different for all of us – but I can guarantee one thing: when you envisage yourself walking down the aisle you won’t be concerned with what you’re wearing or whether your make-up is perfect, you’ll be completely focussed on your groom. A poet called John Milton wrote:
“The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom’s face.
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace.”
As you await the return of your bridegroom, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the trivialities of life or the false priorities. You may marry in this life, you may not. It may be soon, or it may take longer than you think you can bear. But the one certainty is that it cannot replace or out-do your betrothal to Christ.
Fix your eyes on Jesus at the end of that aisle, and hold His gaze alone as you journey towards Him.