I officiated at two weddings this weekend. They were each beautiful in their own way. One, though, reminded me of a profound lesson about our relationship with Christ.
The bride at the earlier wedding is a wonderful woman. She is a cancer survivor and has a really sweet spirit. Though the cancer has been removed, she still bears the scars of her battle. She has significant health challenges as a result, as any cancer survivor does. She has struggled mightily of late with a great deal of pain, so much so that at 2AM on her wedding day she was transported by ambulance to the Emergency Room.
The doctors placed her on morphine and tried to get her pain under control. The whole time she was in the hospital she told the staff that she needed to get home to get ready for her wedding. She didn’t care about an IV drip; she cared about being home to get ready for her big day!
They finally released her at about 7ish, and she came home to get prepared. She could barely stay awake long enough to get her hair done and could barely get out of bed. Though we started 45 minutes later than planned, there she was walking down the aisle. She was on the arm of a good friend, barely able to walk but with a huge smile on her face as she saw her husband.
We had a chair for her to sit in, but she wanted to stand with him before God, her family and friends to say her vows. She couldn’t really hold herself up and was in a great deal of pain, but all she cared about was him. Holding onto him was enough to keep her on her feet, as wobbly as she was. Several times her knees buckled, but with his arm around her she never fell.
He sat her in the chair we had brought up front so that he could serve her the Lord’s Supper for the first time as his wife. Then, at “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” he once again gave her the strength to stand and helped her walk down the aisle. They were both beaming, him with love for her and her with devotion and gratitude for him.
What a beautiful picture. In Ephesians 5:25-32 Paul speaks about husbands and wives as a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church, and I have never seen that picture so powerfully and beautifully. As this woman had a good heart and excellent intentions, so too in my opinion the church has good intentions. However, just as she is sick and hurting, so too is the church.
She couldn’t make it on her own, but the call of her husband was a profound motivation to please him and respond to his love. The church, in all her sickness and pain, seeks to honor Christ as well. Without him she would have fallen over; she never would have made it by herself. Likewise the church without the strength and leadership of Christ is doomed to failure and death. Just as he loved his wife and sought her best, so Christ loves His bride and wants her to succeed. His compassion gave her everything she needed to be a beautiful bride, just as Christ provides everything that the church lacks to bring her to Himself.
What a great reminder as I struggle through my pain and sickness. When I try to make it on my own I will never be able to do so; as I look to Christ and depend on Him, though, His strength enables me to live for Him.
So I got not only a great date with my wife, not only a good time with friends from church, not only the joy of helping Christian friends begin their married life, but I got a deep lesson in my relationship with God as well. That, my friends, is a good start to the day.