As you probably know, or may have assumed from previous blogs, I’m a wedding & portrait photographer. Because of that, I spend my entire summer surrounded with flowers, rings, chaos, and most importantly, love.
I’m usually not lucky enough to have a couple do a “first look.” For those of you who don’t know, that is when a couple sees each other privately before the ceremony. Their own private, special moment to share without 200 guests joining them. It’s uncommon, slightly unconventional, but one of my favorite experiences to photograph.
This one in particular from a few weeks ago was a bit different.
Here we were standing in a silent, beautifully decorated sanctuary at a local church. The groom was standing at the top of the stage, gazing at the back of the church, anticipating the entrance of his bride. You could see the nerves on his face, and he fidgeted as he stood there alone. After what probably seemed like an eternity to him, the doors opened and in walked his beautiful bride, and her long, lace covered dress gently brushed the floor as she walked towards him. And as she approached, I caught a glimpse of a tear in his eye. It was a moment even photos can’t describe, but one I know they’ll remember forever, as will I.
My camera snapped away, as did my assistant’s, but we weren’t even in the room to them. It was just the two, and in that moment as she approached him, you could see the joy and love on his face. It was something out of a storybook, and something not many experience anymore. I was so thankful to have been part of that moment in the beginning of their journey.
I hadn’t thought about that moment much since, until I heard a song in my car on my way to Walmart yesterday. The lyrics are what brought that memory back to my mind. It said, “like a bride, waiting for her groom, we’ll be a church ready for you.”
I’m sure you’ve heard the song, as have I about a million times. It said something different to me though. You see, I remembered that wedding, that moment I just described to you, and what it meant for that groom to be anticipating the arrival of his bride.
I don’t know if you know much about the weddings in biblical times, but rather than how we have weddings now, there was what is known as a betrothal period during which the bride and groom were separated until the wedding. Because of this time period, the arrival of her groom meant a new life, a new experience. It was highly anticipated because of the separation they experienced. I think despite the fact that weddings have changed, we can relate to and understand the anticipation and excitement the brides experienced.
Several times in the Bible, we (the church) are compared to a bride, and Jesus is the Bridegroom.
“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.”
Ephesians 5:25-27 NLT
The comparison comes from the bethrothal period I mentioned above. You see, right now, the bride of Christ (the church) is separate from her Bridegroom (Christ). The bride’s responsibility during that time was to be faithful to her groom. Just as we are to be faithful to Christ, as we anticipate His return.
I don’t think we anticipate His return though. I personally don’t. I’m planning my niece’s birthday party, thinking about the work I have to complete this week, and focusing on paying my car payment next month. The last thing on my mind is Jesus returning for us.
Don’t get me wrong, I am excited for Heaven, and am ready to be taken from this earth whenever that moment arrives, but I don’t anticipate it with excitement. Most days, it doesn’t even cross my mind that I should be waiting for Him. Every moment of every day should be done in anticipation of Jesus returning for us.
If Jesus was coming tomorrow to reunite with us, what would your day look like? How would you live differently?
I don’t know what your answer to that is, but I know what mine is. I’d wait for Him. I would share Him with every person I could, so that every heart would be longing for our King. Sadly though, I don’t live that way.
I want to be a church ready for Him, longing for Him.
I know we don’t know the day or the hour Jesus will return, but I know I want to be ready, and I want to start living in a way that anticipates that day. Nothing else should matter more. So I leave you with the words of Paul to the churh in Corinth, as I think they apply to the churches of today.
“For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.”
2 Corinthians 11:2-4 NLT