Here is a little glimpse into the moment when I gave my heart to my love, Alex, and our lives became one!
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
And so begins the most epic, important, and inspired book ever written–with a marriage.
At the very end of Revelation, the closing statements of human history as we know it, a voice cries out from the throne, “Let us rejoice and be glad! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready… Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” As the old order passes away, God closes the book of history he has written and welcomes the age to come–with a marriage.
As history unfolds over the pages of the Bible, we see God choosing Abram from all the people of the earth, declaring him the father of the nation He Himself will call his bride. We see God pursuing Israel, calling out to her as she strays from him again and again, committing adultery with idols of other nations. We see God finally leave her to her lovers, who betray her–but he returns to lavish his love upon her once more. Time and time again this cycle continues, until finally, God says, “Enough!” and leaves her in silence–but not without a promise. “I will be silent; I will wait until you are ready to receive me. And then, my love, I will return to you, more glorious and more faithful than I have ever been.”
Each generation whispers to the next, “Maybe this year.”
400 of these years pass in silence, darkness.
But God has not forsaken them, for “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”
Since February is the month of love, I considered writing about the definition of love, or insight on relationships. I got married on December 7th, (Yay!) and I have many discoveries I could share! But in my small group last week, our guest speaker gave such a powerful vision for marriage–for the entire story of humanity, really–that I couldn’t help but share my thoughts on it. I want to bring us back to the “why.” We know the what and the how of relationships: relationships open the door to marriage, and we must love well to succeed in one.
But often we lose the “why” in the everyday routine of life, forgetting what a glorious future we strive towards, and the magnificent husband we will have in Jesus.
Marriage is the ultimate personification and archetype of God’s love for his people. Read once more the verse, “For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother…” and let’s pick up where we left the story, where the people walking in darkness have seen a great light. If we rephrase the former verse a bit, we can continue our story with it: “For this reason, Jesus left his father in heaven to be united with his bride, the church, and the two shall become one flesh.” Thus, the first marriage foreshadowed the marriage of the Lamb to his chosen bride. Let’s walk through the human marriage ceremony and see what God is saying about his own marriage ceremony.
The groom stands at the altar, watching the mothers and fathers go down the aisle before the bride. These represent “the great cloud of witnesses” that goes before us as we spend our lives preparing ourselves to meet our groom. Then, as the excitement grows to a climax, the doors open to reveal the bride, her face veiled. She walks slowly through the ranks of those who have gone before, who now celebrate her journey as she prepares to join them. Her father gives her to the groom; then, after an introduction, come their vows.
The groom says his vows, just as Jesus has said his. But at the point where we, the bride, would have said our vows, Jesus said them for us. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ez. 23:26). He promised to uphold his side of the covenant, and now he has given us the power to be faithful to our side, so that we uphold our vows through his strength.
At this point in my marriage ceremony, my husband and I took communion together. To remember Christ’s sacrifice, yes, but also to foreshadow the fulfillment of Christ’s promise, that he would not eat or drink the bread and the wine until we drink and eat anew together in the Kingdom of God at our wedding ceremony.
Then the climax of our ceremony–the bride and groom turn around to face the audience, and the officiator announces, “I now present to you, Mr. and Mrs. Alex Frieg!” (in my case, of course.) Jesus has given us a new name, his name–“Christian.” A name is always changed when a covenant is made. God changed Abram’s name, which means “Exalted Father,” to Abraham, which means “Father of Many Nations.” He changed his name many years before Isaac came. Why? Because our God “gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17).
When I took my husband’s name, it signified that we are now one in God’s sight. But yet, this oneness is mysterious: it has a “now” component, but it also foreshadows an entire life of becoming one.
We are one, but we are not truly one yet. In the same way, when Jesus gave us his name, he put his Spirit in us, becoming one with us. Our sanctification is complete, and still it is not complete yet. It is a divine mystery.
Thus, our small lives reflect the greatest love story ever told.
Marriage is a testimony, a way to show the world, “Your Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is his name! The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” (Is. 54:5) Marriage is not a sum of all it’s parts–security, financial stability, sexual fulfillment, children–and it is greater than its legal status.
Marriage is a vision, a small story telling God’s epic story in its own words.
In light of this, I exhort every person in every stage to remember the story of marriage.
I say to those who wish to remain single: remember your husband! Your husband is called Faithful and True. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written, ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.’ Watch and wait for him, for he is coming soon.
I say to those who long for marriage: Jesus is longing with you! He waits and wishes for the day when he is united with his bride. When you speak to him of your heart, he hears and understands. Pursue him with all your heart–run hard and fast after him, then look to your right and your left to see who is running with you. For among them, you may find one with whom you can share a yoke, laboring for the kingdom and sharing God’s marriage story through your own.
I say to those considering marriage or walking towards marriage: remember, as my marriage counselors encouraged us, “Marriage is not the ballgame: Jesus is the ballgame.”
Life is not about marriage; marriage is about Jesus. Do you and your potential spouse believe and live this reality? Do you see your marriage revolving around God’s story, not your own? Will you both show the same faithfulness to and relentless pursuit of the other as God shows towards his church? Are you both committed to following God, no matter where he takes you? If so, you can proceed confidently into your marriage.
I say to those already married: “Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn” (Is. 51:1). Look to God’s pursuit of his bride to see how you should pursue your spouse.
Live every day with the vision of showing the world, through your marriage, what God’s love looks like. Reflect on the way you treat your spouse: if the world were watching, would they desire Christ more because of the love they see between you? Let this be your vision and motivation for your marriage.
I say to all, happy Valentine’s Day! I pray that each of you receives a new and deeper revelation from God of his relentless, passionate, jealous love for you, and that you share that with those whom God has placed in your life to love.