Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Story of Young Love

As a young man marries a young woman; 
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride; 
so will your God rejoice over you.
Isaiah 62:5; NIV

I find myself in an interesting stage of life, with an empty nest.  Our daughter Kelsey graduated from college and got married a year and a half ago.  Our son Kenney is graduating this spring, and plans to marry a month afterwards. 

So, young love and weddings have been a recent theme in our household.  It’s been both fun and challenging.  Fun to see our kids find the person we’ve been praying for since they were born; both Fred and Andrea are great matches for Kelsey and Kenney.  Challenging because our relationships are changing as our kids leave and cleave to their new and soon-to-be spouses. 

I am in the middle of experiencing these adjustments with my son.  Young love has changed Kenney.  For years, he’s been the impulsive, throw caution to the wind, free spirit of the family.  He’s the rule breaker who challenges the status quo and makes the rest of us, a bit cautious by nature, gasp.  Kenney would blame that on having a detective and a pastor for parents.  What did we expect? 

But young love has changed my son.  I notice he’s not as impulsive.  He’s planning, and saving money??  I can’t tell you how odd this is!  He’s concerned about the future and how he will provide.  Most of our conversations now are about Andrea, future jobs, and their dreams.

Watching my son fall in love and prepare for his wedding has led me to think about Jesus’ love for me.   There is a bridal theme that runs throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.  Jesus is the Bridegroom and we are His bride. For many years, I didn’t see it.  But one day, while grief stricken over a disappointment in my marriage, I felt the Holy Spirit lead me to Isaiah 62.  This passage filled with bridal imagery connected deeply with my soul.  During a time when I felt undesirable, God’s word said quite the opposite:  I was his crown of beauty, desirable, delighted in, and cherished.   

The storm in my marriage passed, but the call to study what scripture teaches about the Bride of Christ grew.   I have to be honest; at first I wasn’t excited about it.  I connected the word “bride” to purity, marriage, and intimacy.  All things I felt I had failed at for various reasons in my life.  That imagery didn’t fit me.  Maybe you can relate.  

Over 10 years has gone by.  During that time, God asked me to go back and deal with some brokenness in my past.   As I have experienced healing and forgiveness, I am more open to seeing myself through the lens of a bride.  However, I resonate with what I’ve heard Joyce Meyer often say, “I haven’t arrived, but thank God I am not where I used to be”.

Recently, I spent some time fasting and praying to hear from the Lord.  I was led to a book of the Bible I’ve resisted my whole life:  The Song of Solomon.  Filled with poetic imagery, on the surface it appears to be a story of young love between King Solomon and a poor Shulammite woman.  But, I was surprised to discover there is a deeper story contained in its pages, that of Jesus Christ and His bride.

Reading through the Song of Solomon, I sense Jesus asking me to see Him through the lens of a groom anticipating His wedding day.  Like my son with his bride-to-be, He wants me to believe that I consume His thoughts, that His love for me is passionate.  When we are apart, He longs for me.  When I am uninterested, it hurts Him.  Honestly, this is riveting, and hard to digest.  But I am committing to take it in, like food that nourishes a hungry soul.  I know it’s what I need.  

Chapter 3 gives a prophetic picture of Jesus returning for us, His bride. “Come and look, sisters in Jerusalem.  Oh, sisters of Zion, don’t miss this! My King-Lover, dressed and garlanded for his wedding, his heart full, bursting with joy!”  (Song of Solomon 3:6-11; TMB)  Sistah’s take note:  God’s love for us is deep and passionate.  Yes, He is our King, Savior, Redeemer, but He longs for us to see Him as our Groom who will one day return and whisk us away to be wed to Him forever. 

In the months leading up to Kenney’s wedding, I ask you to join me on the journey to discover our true identity as the Bride of Christ.  Enjoy watching young love emerge not only in the experience of my son as he readies for his wedding, but also on the pages of scripture.  We’ll spend time studying how young love is an image of Christ’s love for us and discover how Jewish Wedding Customs shed light on the story of God’s love for His church.

What emotions are elicited in your heart when you try to picture yourself as a bride of Christ, sought after and cherished?  Do you, like I did ten years ago, feel it doesn’t fit?  Commit the next four months to reading what God has taught me, and let His truth transform your opinion of yourself, and of His view of you.  Postings will be done weekly - like it on Facebook, or sign up for blog emails (see top of this page).  Feel free to comment on your reaction to the postings.  We learn and grow as we share our thoughts with our sistahs!


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