Category Archives: dating

A Pleading Jealous Husband (Hosea Part 2)

I think one of the biggest things that I’ve seen thus far in my journey through Hosea is the blueprint that God lays for us as men and women to follow his example.  His character and actions toward his people model how we as men must relate to women, and how we as a people must submit to his leadership.  Today’s section that we’ll walk through has given me much pause in how God relates to and disciplines us as a jealous father and husband, and the sorry state of affairs that ensues when we reject his loving, gracious headship.

The main concept I’ve grappled with in the past few weeks has been the difference between the way that God leads and the way that I would likely lead in these various situations.  I honestly don’t know how I would endure what God has, but his example of doing what is truly for our good in spite of our ongoing sin is a precious testament to his faithful covenant love (the Hebrew word is ‘hesed’ – usually translated ‘lovingkindness’ in the Old Testament).  It is his initiating, sustaining, faithful pursuit of his passionate love toward his people for their benefit and his glory.  It is this love that endures forever, blesses us to the utmost, and demonstrates his glory in the world.  But let’s be completely clear here… that doesn’t mean that he excuses or overlooks or downplays sin.  God’s true love is seen in his full-on relentless address of sin so that his bride is pure.  This concept seems to be the best way to frame this passage that we’ll walk through today – Hosea 2:1-13.

A Pleading Jealous Husband
At this point in the narrative, Hosea has married his prostitute wife Gomer and they’ve had some kids.  Surprise surprise, she’s a sinner.  And not only that, apparently she has returned to her former ways and hasn’t killed that sin in her life.  So then by way of allegory, God has taken his people for himself, and they just happen to be sinners as well.  They have forsaken their Lord and turned back to their old idolatry and systematic unrepentant sin.  God then instructs Hosea to demonstrate a heavenly reality in his earthly context by confronting his wife’s ongoing sin, and to warn her as a (rightfully) jealous husband should.

The opening verse in this rebuke is very tough, but very necessary.  It starts off with an interesting play on words – the children’s names are promised in reverse.  Their names meaning ‘not my people’ and ‘no mercy’ are reversed to say that God has accepted his people and that he has given mercy – that God’s love will provide open arms for his people should they repent of their sin.  But the Lord quickly turns to pleadingly rebuke his wife for straying away from his faithful covenant love (verse 2).  Because of his love he is warning her of impending consequences of her lifestyle.  Therefore, God says that he will send his bride out into the desert, and make her barren and thirsty, driving her to understand the humiliating and shameful nature of her sin (verse 3).  She will also understand what she has (or doesn’t have) without her husband.  Though it is hard to see, this is the hidden smile of God, an act of mercy that will hopefully yield the precious fruit of repentance and reconciliation.  Without her dissatisfaction and understanding of her hopeless estate, she would continue on unabated in her sin, leading herself more and more astray.  It is God’s love that pushes her into the desert to stoke the fires of repentance.

Have you ever felt this discipline from the Lord?  Has he driven you into the desert to see the stark reality of your sin?  How have you responded?

We also see that God’s judgment in this case doesn’t just affect his bride – it affects their children as well (verse 4).  Her sin has incurred many consequences and has affected many people.  And that’s another good point – our sin never affects just us.  It affects everyone, including future generations.  Think about that… parents who pass their insecurities and temptations on to their children are passing their sin and its consequences along.

Let me be both clear and blunt.  Sin never stays within the boundaries you set for it.  It always spills its banks, always costs more than you think, and cuts far deeper than you can imagine.  Its desire is for you – to consume you, to rule you, to make you its slave.  And when you are enslaved to sin, you drag many others – especially those you love and who love you – down with you.  While your sin is your own and you are the one who is responsible for it, its effects are far reaching and broad ranging.  Take a sober look at your life and your sin and you will (I pray) be humbled at the effects of your sin.  I weep at the hurt I’ve caused others.  I pray you do as well.

Moving along in the passage, we see that the prostitute wife (Gomer/Israel) continues on seeking wrongly attributed benefits from sinful relationships (verse 5).  She is pursuing sin and looking to it to provide only what God is capable of providing.  How many times do we do this?  In what ways to we look to gain God’s provision outside of the means that he has chosen to provide it?  When we seek other means by which we can experience sex, for example (adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, pedophilia, etc.), we go against his design and incur many consequences that are too numerous to dig into here.  The same goes for money – when we seek illegal or illegitimate gain, it never works out in the long run.  When we desire children, provision for our families, or anything that supersedes our desire to stay within the way God has wired the world to work, we are essentially the harlot wife looking to ‘clients’ to whom she has wrongly attributed her husband’s provision.  This is ugly, and it is real.

God’s response in this situation is to hedge his bride (verse 6) – to keep her from her own sin – for her own good.  This shows his wisdom and love for his bride.  It is analogous to when we keep small children from playing in a busy street, or slap their hand away from a hot stove.  God’s love for his children and his infinite wisdom drives him to restrain her from her sin.  So the Lord goes on to show that his bride will be hemmed in, that she will desire sin and not be allowed to pursue it or act on it.  She will eventually become discouraged and downtrodden, exhausted from the fruitless pursuit of shortsighted lust.

How does that hit you?  What do you make of God directly contradicting his bride’s ‘free  will’ to protect her?

The text takes an interesting turn here (verse 7) – God’s prostitute wife, at her wits’ end, will then return to her husband, not from love or repentance, but because she realizes that things were at least better with him.  I think we (or at least I) do this all the time.  It is the beginning of the process that leads to repentance.  Though it is not repentance, it is at least an acknowledgement of the fruitless pursuit of sin, and the realization that God is ready and willing to receive us.  Now, that in no way means that the road back will be easy or straight, or even make sense most of the time, but it does mean that the Lord is waiting at the end as our reward.

In the following verse, we see a really interesting concept that seems peculiar at first, but I think opens up into a much larger understanding of God’s sovereignty and love (verse 8). God shows his hand, stating that he was the one who provided the various things mentioned in the passage, not his bride’s lovers.  This is another precious grace that in spite of our sin his love is unwavering, his resolve unshaken.  God is much bigger than that, and his purposes for us far exceed the effects of our sin if we are his in Christ Jesus.  Just because we sin against him on a daily basis doesn’t mean that he isn’t at work around us, in us, through us, and in spite of us.  He is our ultimate provider, not our jobs, not our own hands, not ‘luck’.  So it is not a company that provides my paycheck – rather, God gives me plenty to steward for his kingdom.  It is not the locks on my doors that keep me secure at night – God restrains evil at my doorstep.  And in order for us to appropriately live in this world we must see that even the most seemingly random events are at the hands of God’s sustaining and provisionary grace.  So we must give him the glory in providing for us, even and especially if we’re in sin.

I think the best biblical example of this is found in Romans 5:8 – “… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  So before you and I ever took a breath or sinned, while Paul was still a Pharisee who would go on to murder Christians, while we were hardened desperate sinners, Christ died for us so that we might be free to love him and glorify him in our lives.

How has God provided for you when you’ve been far from him in sin?  What provisions have you taken for granted that God can take away at any time?  How does that make you feel about or respond to the Lord?

The last few verses are not easy to read or walk through, in my opinion.  It details out the way that God will discipline and humiliate his bride so that she will return to him.  This is by no means a direct correlation to our human marriages now – God is God, you are not.  But I’ll address that in a minute.  First, God expresses his disgust at what he has so graciously lavished on his bride, she has used for sin (verse 9).  His judgment, then, is to take it away from her and strip her of his provisions to show her shameful pursuits, her neediness, kill her pride, and bring her back to repentance.  Israel/Gomer will utterly at the hands of her husband (verse 10).  He will also take away her capacity for happiness apart from him (verse 11), because that is his greatest glory and her greatest good.  He will take away her money, her livelihood, her base from which she conducts her sin, and will bring disaster to her (verse 12).  He will also punish her for her sin and adultery – for letting her affections for another compromise her life as she slips further and further into sin.

What do you make of this?  How does God’s jealousy hit you?  It seems as though he’s not only jealous for his glory, but also for our love.

As a husband, what wouldn’t you do to rescue your wife back from her sin?  She’s your responsibility; if she’s heading into sin and adultery, what would you do to stop her?  Would you warn her, cut off her credit card, make it increasingly difficult to accomplish her sin? This is God’s motivation and methodology for wooing his wife back from her egregious sin.  This isn’t just a sinfully jealous boyfriend or husband stalking and controlling his wife and dictating everything she does.  It is a faithfully covenanted husband rescuing his wife from her sin for their marriage’s sake.

This is mercy and love at its finest.  Anyone can make a marriage work when things are good, when the sex is good, when the laundry is done and the food is cooked. But when you realize that people are sinners and that you’re married to one of them, and when you have your fights about sex and kids and whatever else, and when you are tempted to see that things would be different and maybe better with someone else… 1) how do you discipline your mind to come away from that temptation? 2) how do you work with your spouse to bring yourself or him/her away from their sin?  How do those conversations go, and how do you fight to protect your marriage?

And what about the more subtle sins?  How do you show the effects of your spouse’s sin in a clear but non-vindictive way?  When your spouse sins against you, do you throw it in their face with a smirk and say ‘you need to fix this’… or do you lovingly wait until they are in a receptive frame of mind and calmly express your love for them and desire to work through their sin with them?

What tempts you away from your spouse?  What tempts you away from God?  Why?

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The Bride and her Groom (Guest Post)

I’m proud to announce (and host) this first guest post by a dear friend of mine, miss Leslie Sallee of Fort Worth, Texas.  I asked her to write about the Church’s submission to Christ from a single woman’s perspective… so here it is – enjoy.

Marriage is something I’ve wanted my whole life. No, there’s no binder in my room documenting every detail of my future wedding but if one of my relationships ever got past 3 months, it was difficult not to flip through wedding magazines at the news stand. Being married meant that someone would love me, make me feel beautiful, appreciated, and superior to everyone else around me. Who needs preparation for that?! Isn’t it just supposed to happen? What God made painfully obvious in my life over the past few years, was that was only a symptom of the state of my heart. Honestly, I thought that preparing to be a bride required little on my part. The guy has the responsibility of leading, so if I don’t follow him or I if I screw up then ultimately, the blame can be placed on him for not being a good enough leader—it’s not really my fault. Well, I would never say that out loud but that was the posture of my heart…and from conversations and off-hand comments by some married and unmarried women in my community, it has been or is a prevalent attitude. Think about the effects of that attitude, though. Think hard. What does that say about what’s truly in a woman’s heart?

Ok, let’s start with the word submission. Yes, yes—I can see the eye rolls and hear the groans signaling you’re about to throw counter punches. Or maybe you think you’ve got this part covered and I’m just preaching to myself (I am always preaching this to myself, by the way).  But just consider this. Submission colors every part of the church’s existence and it should be the most beautiful garment that a bride-in-preparation wears. Please don’t think I’m saying a woman should submit to every male in her life. The Bible never says that. According to Ephesians 5 and 6, we submit to our own husbands as to the Lord, our parents, and our employers.  Of course, this all comes with the disclaimer that these authorities aren’t asking us to contradict the commands of Christ. Our highest authority, and all-consuming point of submission is Christ.

As I wait and pray in expectation of a God-honoring, God-reflecting marriage, submission spreads to every point of my life and relationships. Do I submit to Christ as my Lord, my love? Do I submit to my husband, despite not knowing him yet, as my lover and leader? Think about who or what takes precedence over Christ—over your not-yet-revealed husband. In my own life, this has included dreams of a job or a certain style of living. Most often it has manifested itself (and still does at times) as a guy. Sometimes this guy is a real guy and sometimes he is the image of the “perfect” guy in my head. When you come down to it, these are idols—they are anything put above God.  What, or who, are you giving things up for other than Christ and a life with the husband he appoints? Here’s another example: Gomer in Hosea 1-3. She married Hosea but soon after, left and followed her other lovers. Just like Israel, like the Church, she had not submitted her desires to be for her husband alone and hadn’t done away with her idols. So what, don’t fall in love? Not at all! Fall in love with Christ. Fall in love with your husband. Know what attributes make a godly man and save your emotions for him (read about a godly man’s attributes in Nathan’s earlier posts). Keep yourself pure physically and emotionally. Avoid the emotional entanglements of friends with benefits, infatuations, the hot-brooding-guy-who-can’t-make-up-his-mind,…you get the picture. Emotional entanglements can become habits and lead to fear, wandering eyes, and mistrust. Practice purity in all its forms, ask forgiveness, and follow Christ’s leading.

So practically, what does practicing submission look like in everyday interactions? First, let me clarify that it’s not being a doormat or never speaking up during a conversation. Submission involves the laying down of your own wants, self-seeking glory, and pointing others to Christ lovingly. Practice submission in conversation by encouraging the men in your life. Encourage them to seek God harder by asking challenging questions. Let them plan events or outings while offering to serve for part of it. Ask their opinions without mocking or blowing them off if they say something you don’t like. This prepares you to be the helper God has called you to be and helps men by learning to lead, think, and seek God with the loving support of Christian sisters. Don’t forget to serve. That is so important! If you don’t know how to or who to serve, just look around. Ask somebody. Nurseries, shelters, schools, churches, your friends—pray that God would make you aware of the needs around you. Sometimes all it is, is being a listening ear. The Proverbs 31 woman embodied this and more. She was brilliant and all the while brought honor to her husband and children. She served, created, dealt, comforted, and provided for those in her sphere. Jesus can be glorified now and my future husband honored through the submission of my will to Christ’s commands.

One more thing—submission is trust for something beyond yourself that you can’t see right away. Trust in God’s time of preparation. As he “allure[d] her, and [brought] her into the wilderness” to purify and save her (Hosea 2:14-15), allow God to purify you of idols, mistrust, and selfishness. Pray for your future husband to be taught and brought under God’s glorifying purpose as Jesus was brought under God the Father’s in Gethsemane. Pray that this time of preparation opens your eyes and draws your heart to a man of godly character. Practice submission and serving now to better support and encourage your husband in God’s leading for both of your lives.

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Mercy in Loneliness

The following was written on March 13, 2008…

 

Real as a prayer on a lonely night,
sure as the ocean tide
oh love, oh love
oh the many colors that you’re made of
you heal and you bleed
you’re the simple truth and you’re the biggest mystery
— “Oh Love” —
by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood

Who doesn’t long for someone to hold?
Who knows how to love you without being told?
Somebody tell me why I’m on my own,
If there’s a soulmate for everyone.
— “Soulmate” —
by Natasha Bedingfield

Well, I think I’ve finally come to the place where I know at least some part of the answer to some questions that have rested on my soul for the longest time.  Disclaimer: by no means does this mean I have it ‘figured out’ or even have peace in my heart – it means only that God has spoken Truth into my life and allowed me a slight glimpse into my own life from His perspective.  Before I go any further, allow me to elaborate on what I’m actually talking about.

Ever since the day I figured out girls were cool and that I wanted one, I’ve longed to be married.  From then on, I’ve schemed, planned, strategized, and tactically approached dating relationships, and all manner of communication in relation to them.  Many a late night during my college years was spent hunched over cheap coffee, either dissecting the latest philosophy and/or theology of dating and marriage.  Still more were spent engaging in conversation with any number of my peers as we lamented, celebrated, theorized, and advised each other about the many intricacies of dating life, the opposite sex, and what God thought about all of it.  Through it all, I’ve had one constant desire on my heart – to be a husband, a father, and a provider for my future family.

That having been said, my last official relationship ended between 4 and 5 years ago, and I’ve been pondering life, marriage, relationships, and theology ever since.  The past two years have been especially fruitful and formative for where I believe I’m headed for the rest of my life, and without getting sidetracked there, I’ll say that they have been an immense blessing despite tough times and long nights.   I’ve oscillated drastically from near certainty that a relationship would blossom out of a friendship to nearly vowing celibacy and denying what God has put in my heart for me to do.  Through thick and thin, laughter and pain, one constant staccato of questions has ached my soul and been a heavy ballast in my heart:  When, where, and how will I meet my future wife… and who is she?  I know well the dark nights of the soul when prayers hit the ceiling and the only thing on the other end of the phone line is voice mail.  The questions, the uncertainty, the insecurity… all of them welled up within me to the breaking point when I found myself crying out like David, “How long, O Lord, will you forget me?”

It is in the still quietness following that silent crescendo in my heart that I found myself praying constantly for my future wife and kids, for myself, for anything at all that would relieve me of my angst.  As the months wore on, God began to show me more of myself, which was a scary thing for me to see.  Small faults, hidden insecurities, erroneous presuppositions about the way relationships and marriage and myself worked.  These discoveries were all good and well, but deliverance from the ache of missing someone I hadn’t even met still eluded me.  Pain.  Turmoil.  Isolation.  Why would God put those into my life if He wired me for marriage and community?  What would be the purpose in not having that venue to glorify Him?  I had my stuff together, I had my priorities in line, and I was ready, right?  Absolutely wrong.  What follows is the result of the last couple of days in my meditations on this subject, and they are by no means infallible.  I do believe that God has given me insight into my own situation, and therefore I’ve chosen to put it down here.  Do with it what you will.

Yesterday as I was driving home from class, I continued on the line of thinking that I’d entertained earlier that morning, namely my future family (or lack thereof) and the omnipresence of those who had found precisely what I longed for.  As I plumbed these depths for the millionth time, I had an epiphany.  If God would have given me who I wanted (and still very much want) when I wanted her, I would have taken advantage of her, taken her for granted, and failed to appreciate her – or perhaps more accurately, God working through her.  Basically, I came face-to-face with the reality that God – in His infinite mercy and wisdom – was allowing me to endure the pain of loneliness for my own good… because as a wise pastor once said, it is much better to be lonely outside of a relationship than lonely inside a marriage.   Now, I’ll admit that I’m not much closer to having this figured out than I was yesterday, but I do realize the game I’m playing now.  Until I’m ready to lay down all that I dream on the altar of God’s will for me, I will continue to be frustrated, lonely, and wholly unattractive to the kind of woman I pray that I’ll marry.  So for now, I’m content to work on that which is in me that is fractured and would do massive damage to a marriage were it given the opportunity.  I lean wholly on God’s guidance through Scripture, prayer, and godly wisdom/advice/experience, and thus far have found it to be immensely sanctifying, humbling, and hopefully rewarding than even I thought it would be.

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Jesus and His Bride (Part 2)

Continuing on from yesterday’s post…

We also see that Christ lays down his life for his bride.  Paul tells us this in Ephesians 5:25 – that a man is to mirror Christ in laying down his life for his wife.  So Jesus loves his wife so much that he gave himself up for her so that she would be sanctified and would not have to suffer.  This got Jesus killed.  Men, in what ways are you dying to yourself, giving yourself up for your wife, and laying your life down for your wife so that she would not have to suffer?  What is she ‘putting up with’ or ‘tolerating’? I’m not saying you have to sell all of your guns and take up knitting, but I am saying that if you’re not willing to die a little bit to yourself, then you’re asking her to die for you.  Let me be clear on this:  this is in no way the gospel.  You die, she doesn’t.  And sometimes dying to yourself will feel like death – it’s not pleasant.  But you do it for her, and you do it for the gospel.  It’s not about you.  Single men:  Is the way that you structure and lead your life making it easier to die to yourself in the future, or are you ingraining in your life selfish indulgences that will cause you pain and anguish to rid yourself of them later? Asked in another way, are you becoming more selfish or more selfless?

As a follow-up to that first point, Christ deals with and takes on his Bride’s sin.  Second Corinthians 5:21 tells us that God make Jesus who was sinless to become sin on our behalf.  Practically speaking that means that as men we must take on her sin as our own and help her war against it as a useful husband.  To be clear, this does not mean that we ‘fix’ her or make her our project.  Do be a student of your wife and mirror Jesus by preparing to fight her sin (and your sin also) with her, but do not try to be Jesus and atone for her sin.  Only Jesus can and does do that.  To my single brothers:  Are you able to help your future wife deal with her sin in a Christ-exalting, gospel-centered way?  Can you tenderly help lead her to repentance when she is convicted, and continually speak the truth of reconciliation into her life? This, to me, is one of the main aspects of pastoring a home (did you know that you’re supposed to pastor your home?).  It doesn’t mean that we wear a cape or arrogantly school her in theology.  But it does mean that we walk with her and lovingly treat her delicately as the man who is spiritually responsible for her (see 1 Peter 3).

Another thing that I’ve seen is that Jesus makes preparations for his bride’s sanctification.  Ephesians 5:26-27 says that he washes her with the water of the Word so as to present her blameless and pure.  Isaiah 61:10 says that God covers his people in righteousness.  So as men we are to ready ourselves to lead a woman spiritually to her benefit and God’s glory.  This means that we must deal with our own junk, put to rest our own pet sins, and lead ourselves spiritually before we can with good conscience ask a woman to follow us.  So face down your pride.  Realize that your porn addiction is killing you spiritually (whether you realize it or not).  And know what it is to lead spiritually.  Obviously none of this happens overnight, and nobody is perfect.  But if we’re following the model of Christ and his bride, by all means we must hold ourselves to that standard so as to show the manifold wisdom of God to this world.  Do you know how to lead a woman spiritually?  Are you growing and are you prepared to help her grow in the Lord?

As Jesus intercedes on her behalf, he also makes preparations for her future prosperity.  By that I mean that he acts in such a way as to ensure that her future is bright, hope-filled, and joyous.  Revelation 21:9-27 describes the ornate and beautiful city of Jerusalem (which 21:9 says is the Bride), and that it is bejeweled, holy, has many pearls, gold, and precious stones.  As the description goes on, we find out that the city’s foundation stones are the Apostles and the people of Israel. Christ himself discipled the 12 apostles (minus Judas and including Paul) who then discipled others who laid the foundation of the early church.  So Jesus was intimately involved in planning and ensuring his bride’s future and prosperity.  Furthermore we see that Jesus in John 14:1-3 tells his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for us (the bride).  So between now and the time that Jesus comes back for us, he’s busy making sure that everything is in order so that it’s perfect in heaven for his lady.  So for those of us who aspire to marry someday, what does this all mean?  The question I’ve been asking myself is whether or not I’m making plans and ensuring a bright, hope-filled future for my wife or not.  Are you making plans to rid yourself of debt and help her pay hers off?  Are you putting into your life habits and structures that ensure that she is worry-free about the future?  Do you have insurance and steady gainful employment? All of these things are very practical, but are also important in preparing for marriage (at least as far as I can tell).  Mostly idea is that as men we must have some view and plan for the future, and it must be one that brings joy and hopeful expectation rather than dread and burden.

As Jesus readies himself much like a groom in that stuffy storage closet room that they always give the guys to get ready for the wedding in, he is pursuing his bride with godly intent.  He glorifies the Lord in everything, and he acts with conviction, passion, selflessness, and joy at the prospect of his wedding day.  He stays pure for her (see the model of Boaz in Ruth, Hebrews 7:26, and Revelation 19:11), and eagerly awaits her arrival.  And none of this is contingent on her past, the many suitors who have led her astray and into sin, or anything else for that matter.  She is his girl, and he is completely devoted to her.  Her ‘flaws’ or ‘imperfections’ are beautiful to him because they showcase the glory of God in her life (in her weakness she is strong in Christ).

I’ll end with this… we have no idea what Solomon’s bride in the Song of Solomon actually looked like.  We don’t have her picture or a likeness of her – and that’s not important.  What we do have, and what is immensely important is that we know how Solomon saw her.  She had certain features that were more prominent (her neck, for example, was like a huge tower) – and he praised her and doted on every aspect of her.  He lavished upon her compliment after compliment in some of the most scandalously and beautifully erotic language in all of Scripture.  So it didn’t matter what Solomon’s bride looked like.  And Jesus doesn’t care what his girl looks like – he knows she’ll be beautiful and unique and precious to him on his wedding day and for eternity.  So should it matter, then, what my bride or your bride looks like?  Maybe the most important thing is how we choose to see her rather than what features or accessories she’s sporting.  She is our standard of beauty, not some airbrushed, digitally ‘enhanced’ work of fiction designed to pull the maximum amount of money out of your wallet.  Jesus only has eyes for his girl – she’s his standard of beauty.  I’m going to do the same.

Just a few of my thoughts.  Let me know what you think.

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Jesus and His Bride (Part 1)

I’ve heard lots of wonderful teaching about how Christ relates to the Church is a beautiful metaphor for earthly marital relationships.  I’ve also heard lots of good teaching about following Christ’s example as a chaste and holy unmarried man and the ensuing practical steps for the single life.  What I haven’t heard much at all about Jesus preparing for his marriage.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about some heretical Dan Brown-esque idea that Jesus got married and had kids or anything like that.  Rather, a while back I made it a point to take a look at how Jesus is preparing for his Bride, the Church, in hopes that I could learn something about this season of life that I’m in, i.e. being single with the hopeful expectation of marriage someday.  So here’s what I’ve learned thus far.

First, Jesus loves his Bride very deeply.  From the many metaphors in Song of Solomon to his earthly and heavenly actions, his sacrifice, and the beautiful teachings in Paul’s letters we see that Christ is deeply and passionately in love with his Bride.  There are several places in Scripture that speak to this precious relationship, but one of the neatest is in the first five verses of Isaiah 62. God declares to his people in verse 4 that he will change their name from ‘desolate’ (or ‘Shemamah’ in Hebrew) to ‘my delight is in her’ (or ‘Hephzibah’) which shows his redeeming love for Israel – also known as Christ’s love for the Church.  The next verse draws a sweet metaphor along the same lines saying that in the same way a groom rejoices over his bride, so God rejoices over his people (Christians).  Do you have, and are you cultivating in your heart the capacity to deeply and passionately love your wife? This is not something that you channel through sports or competition – it’s something that you cultivate by spending time focusing on dying to yourself, giving of yourself to someone else, and serving your guts out for the glory of God.

Jesus also waits for his bride – his love is pure and wholeheartedly for her, and he awaits the beautiful wedding day that we see in Revelation 21 (see Matthew 26:29, cf. Mark 14:25, Luke 22:18).  Jesus won’t ‘take the cup’ or celebrate again until the consummation and celebration of the ‘wedding supper of the Lamb’ – or more clearly, when we (the Bride) are reunited with him in heaven.  Therefore Jesus waits for his Bride, and we anxiously await his return.  Therefore, in mirroring Christ, I must wait eagerly, patiently, and purely, reserving my love only for my future wife.  There are a myriad of ways in which to do this, but the main idea is to mirror Christ.  Are you waiting expectantly for your wife? This shouldn’t be boiled down to Facebook stalking or pining away alone in a pitiable state on a Friday and Saturday nights, but rather in preparation, in discipline, and with confidence in the grace of Christ to provide everything that you need when you need it.

One of the really cool things we see Christ doing for his bride that is a bit more subtle (but is immensely important and practical) is that he prays and intercedes for his bride on her behalf.  We see this specifically in Romans 8:34 (Christ died and is interceding for us at the right hand of God the Father), and in Hebrews 9:24 (he appears in the presence of God on our behalf).  Men, do you pray for your wife?  Do you seek to intercede on her behalf in the presence of God? This is a most precious ministry that we are given, and we must bear it well for the sake of our wives, and for the sake of the gospel.  Pray for your wife, and do so regularly.  If you’re single like I am, pray for your wife, and do so regularly.  Pray for her purity, her salvation, her friends and family to encourage and sharpen her, and pray for your children.

(I’ll post part two tomorrow…)

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