Bringing the Bride Back From the Brink
It was one of those dreams that makes you desperate to wake up. It wasn’t that the dream was scary or disjointed or terrifying, it was simply because it was stressful. So acutely stressful that I thought it was real life, but it wasn’t. Granted, my firstborn just got engaged two weeks ago and I am stepping into the throes of wedding prep, so when I dreamt about a wedding, I wasn’t surprised. What was surprising, though, was that I was the bride in the dream and shockingly, no one seemed to care.
I found myself rushing around –– here, there, and everywhere –– on my wedding day. I was worried and distracted about logistics, out-of-town guests, and random details. I was thinking about everyone and everything else except myself and the one I was marrying. Unfortunately, in the dream, my bridegroom was nameless, faceless, and absent from the dream.
The Bride Wasn’t Ready
The hour of the wedding was closing in and I wasn’t in place. I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t dressed, I wasn’t where I needed to be. I remember misplacing my makeup bag and after frantically searching for and finding it, I began walking a mile to the church at 5:45 p.m. for a 6:00 p.m. wedding. It was then I remembered I left my car in the parking lot and had to turn around to retrieve it. Knowing I was going to be late to my own wedding, I tried calling my sister, but she didn’t pick up. It was as if everyone was preoccupied with going to the wedding, but no one cared about the bride. I began to feel irrelevant and forgotten. The dream was turning into a nightmare and I literally jolted myself awake.
Upon waking, I felt impressed that the bride was me, the spiritual me –– and not just me, but the many believers like me who are distracted, burdened, and overwhelmed with the cares of life. Collectively, we are consumed with all the other things except the one thing that should matter to every bride on her wedding day: being prepared and in position to marry the love of her life.
Have we Forgotten Our First Love?
In Jeremiah 2:32, the prophet asks, “Can a virgin forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.” Jeremiah’s question is clearly rhetorical, except in the case of my dream. In the moment of trying to get to the wedding on time, I had no idea where my wedding dress was at that moment. I was looking for my keys to the car and clutching my newly-located makeup bag with a still-bare face, assuming I’d figure whereabouts of my dress once I got to the church. My priorities were awry, and I was clearly unprepared.
I am reminded of Jesus’ words to the Church in Ephesus, a church busy with working, toiling, and enduring for the Gospel. Unlike the haphazard approach to my wedding day, the Church at Ephesus was trying to do the right thing by “enduring patiently” and “bearing up” for the namesake of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 2:2-3) Yet Jesus had this against them: “You have abandoned the love you had at first.” (2:4) The Greek root word for “abandon” used here is “aphiēmi” which means to let go, desert, neglect and disregard. Perhaps, one of the most significant definitions in this context is “to go away leaving something behind.” Like they already possessed what was valuable but they didn’t value it. All the good works, all the activity, all the trying to do the right thing in their own eyes could not compensate for the abandoned love and passion for the one in whose name all the activity was being done in the first place.
I go back to my dream and remember that the bridegroom was not in it. He was nameless, faceless. And perhaps that’s the scariest part of my whole dream. Why was I, the bride in my own dream, not thinking about him? Why couldn’t I visualize him? Why were my thoughts fixated on so many worthless things instead of the one thing of worth: him?
When I truly know and love Jesus for Who He is to me, He is not nameless. He is not faceless. He is my bridegroom, the Lover of My Soul. He belongs to me and I belong to Him. I think of Him as the One who unconditionally loves me and puts my life before His own. (John 15:13) When he found me abandoned and alone, He cared for me. (Ezekiel 16:5-6) He covered me when I was naked (Ezekiel 16:8) and fulfills his vow to love me faithfully. Jesus wrapped me in the fine linen of His righteousness and the silk garments of His salvation. (Ezekiel 16:10) He made me His beloved and caused me to grow “exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.” (Ezekiel 16:14) He fed me with Himself, the Bread of Life, and caused me to thrive. (John 6:35; Ezekiel 16:19) He cherishes me, speaks tenderly to me, and pursues my heart. (Ephesians 5:25, 26; Hosea 2:14)
Such a worthy bridegroom should have a most worthy bride!
Church, Our Final Identity is “Bride”
Jesus called out the Church in Ephesus just like He would call out you and me today. Jesus will have His Bride, His Love, His plural “One and Only” that will rule and reign in a perfect covenant of mutual and wholehearted love for the other. She will be a bride prepared. She will be a bride made ready, “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:27) Most of all, she will be a bride whose heart is wholly, completely, unabatedly, unashamedly and unconditionally His and His alone. She passionately knows that there is nothing and no one who compares to Him. There is no length or depth or height she would not go to become a worthy bride for the incomparable worth of her bridegroom. As He is holy, so she is made holy as well.
On that day, those who love Jesus more than they love their own lives will join their voices with “what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude” and say, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.” (Revelation 19: 6-8)
Today, Jesus is calling His bride back from the brink of distraction to the only thing that matters: Himself.
Annemarie McLean is a four-girl mom, freelance writer, and co-founder of Brave & Beautiful, a ministry focused on challenging young women to live purpose-driven lives full of courage and character, while developing Christ-centered inner beauty. Annemarie holds a journalism degree from Oral Roberts University, with graduate work in organizational leadership at Palm Beach Atlantic University.