Posted on Wednesday 1 July 2009

He’s 25. She’s 21. I held her when she was just hours old, and loved her before I ever saw her face. She is my sister’s youngest daughter…and she’s engaged. She’s about to begin her senior year of college, and she’s planning a January wedding.

A little over a week ago they sat on my sofa and talked about the future, and I almost had to blink to see her as she is…not as I remember her: at birth, in kindergarten, with pigtails, with a broken jaw, or in Christmas pajamas or braces and a hoodie. (I think for a minute there I may have even heard Tevya sing the first few bars of “Sunrise, Sunset.”) However hard it is for my eyes to adjust to the reality before me, she’s grown, and she has chosen who she’ll love for life.  I believe she’s chosen well. When she looks to the future she sees the young man beside her clearly – the rest is a little fuzzy, still. And she seems good with the unfinished picture as long as her groom is in it.

She’s sure now who she belongs to, even if she’s sure about little else. Three years ago we sat together on a balcony on a July night in Aspen, gazing at the moonlit ridge before us and shivering in the chilly mountain air. She was ready to go to college, to test her independence and her ideas. She was sure then about what she wanted. I’m grateful that she’s found it.

She’s spoken for. Betrothed. And betrothal changes things.

What if we each knew and believed beyond a doubt that we were spoken for? How would our days be different? What if we viewed our lives as one long, tender engagement – as a prelude to a promised eternity with a strong and faithful Bridegroom? Would a deeper understanding of what it means to be the betrothed Bride of Christ change the way we live now, today? And how?

Our modern ideas about engagement focus chiefly on the bride, and on an event – the wedding itself. But the central figure of betrothal in Jesus’ culture was the groom: his actions, his provision, his promise. And his betrothal was a binding agreement. No turning back. No second thoughts. Done. Deal. So the betrothed bride need not fear the future. She was utterly certain of her groom’s good intent, and confident of their shared life to come.

We have no need to fear the future, either. Our Groom has secured our destiny and prepared our forever-home. He will defend us against any thief or deceiver, for he has betrothed us to him in “righteousness, justice, lovingkindness and compassion.”

There’s more than one wedding in our future. We are counting the days with joy.

For 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. (Isaiah 54:5)

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