I think back to the day I married my husband Jim. We got married under the London Bridge in Lake Havasu, our parents, one of my friends and his brother and the Justice of the Peace the only ones in attendance. It was a perfect April day and the setting was beautiful. As my dad walked me down the grassy hill, my eyes were only on Jim and his eyes were on me. It didn't matter that I was wearing a dress from Sears that cost under $40, that we didn't have expensive flowers and an elaborate reception planned, all that mattered was that I was his bride. That he had called me his own.
To be the one chosen is an amazing feeling. To be wanted and not just sitting on the sidelines. To be the one treasured and not just a part of the crowd. To be the honored bride and not just a bridesmaid. You've heard the expression "always a bridesmaid, never a bride". Do you know where it originated? It was first mentioned in a song written in the 1920's which said, "Why am I always the bridesmaid, never the blushing bride. Ding, Dong, wedding bells only ring for other gals, but one fine day please let it be soon I shall wake up in the morning on my own honeymoon." Here was the single gal lamenting not being the bride. But why wasn't she a bride? If you look further, Listerine (yes, the mouthwash company!) started an ad campaign in 1925 about a sad young woman. “Edna’s case was a really pathetic one. Like every woman, her primary ambition was to marry. Most of the girls of her set were married — or about to be. Yet no one possessed more grace or charm or loveliness than she. And as her birthdays crept towards that tragic thirty-mark, marriage seemed farther from her life than ever. She was often a bridesmaid but never a bride.” All of her loneliness could be attributed to one thing...bad breath! She was never chosen to be a bride, all because of her bad breath, all because of some fault in her.
You think of marriage, you think of love and all of the mysterious things that work together to bring two people together as one. It truly is a mystery. There is another mystery, the mystery of God and His love for us. The mystery of His allowing His son to die for us. The mystery of His life and death and resurrection all so that we could be united with Him. The mystery alluded to in Ephesians 5:32, "This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." In Ephesians 5 Paul is talking about husbands and wives and how they are to treat each other. And as he speaks to the husbands he says this, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (verses 25-27). He is speaking of husbands loving their wives and equates the church as that wife or bride and Jesus as the husband or bridegroom. In 2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul speaking to the church at Corinth says this, "For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband--Christ" (NIV).
What is amazing to me in reading the scripture above about Christ loving the church, is that it says 'that He might sanctify and cleanse it it, that He might presents it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing'. He does the work to make the bride beautiful. The one who is to become His bride may have 'bad breathe' as the girl in the Listerine ad did, but He is the one to take care of that. He is the one who makes us fit to be His bride. There is no bad breath too horrendous, no blemish too ghastly, no feature so appalling that He turns His head and refuses us. There is no sin in us so awful, no blot in our past so gruesome, no secret so shocking that He becomes a runaway bridegroom. He committed to our betrothal when He carried that cross. Instead of a wedding ring, He donned a crown of thorns. Instead of a tuxedo, He adorned Himself with nails. He did all of that because He chose us. As it says in Ephesians 1:4, "Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love" (The MSG). And no matter our faults, no matter our shortcomings, no matter our deficiencies, it is His love that changes us, that makes us whole and holy.
I remember years ago, after Jim and I had been through a lot in our marriage, separated and then brought back together and healed by God, we were part of a marriage ministry. There was one couple there who had so many issues it was hard to know where to start. He was not a kind man, he was inattentive and quick to speak with harsh words. She appeared frumpy and downtrodden. We did one on one counseling with them and there were group meetings. At one of the group meetings, in front of probably twenty other couples, he said that she was basically so homely that he would have to put a blindfold on to have relations with her. You could have heard a pin drop and the pain she felt was almost a palpable thing. We continued counseling them and at one of the group meetings some time later they walked in and, oh my goodness, how different they looked. She had a peace and contentment about her, a smile that lit up the room. He was beaming with pride. We asked them what had happened, what had brought about that transformation. He said that the Lord had worked in his heart, and he felt compelled to buy her a new dress, a beautiful red dress. He took that dress home and told her to put in on and then took her out on a date. The ramifications of that one decision put into motion changes that they never could have imagined. His showing love for her changed her. His arraying her in finery showed her who she truly was, a lovely woman, a treasured wife.
And just so, Jesus has arrayed us, as it says in Isaiah 61:10, "For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels", (NASB). He has not only chosen me, but He has arrayed me, He has gifted me, He has accorded me everything I need to become that bride. I don't need a wedding planner, I don't need to scour through hundreds of bridal magazines or taste wedding cakes. He has done all the work for me. He has made all of the preparations. All that is required of me is to say, "I do".
All scripture unless otherwise noted is KJV.
Information on the quote "always a bridesmaid, never the bride" from snopes.com