By Annah Matthews
I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10 NLT
She walked to meet her groom beautifully clothed in white, jewels from her gown glistening in the light. She was a shining example of love, faithfulness, and the ultimate covenant. She was radiant, and she held His attention.
His eyes were fixed upon her and her alone. She was focused on Him but something else caught her attention. To the side she heard whispers. She noticed heads turning, gossipy words exchanged, and looks of disappointment from the crowd around her.
She suddenly saw the reality of herself –a dirty, tattered dress, misshapen veil, and her makeup was a runny mess and streamed with tears. Everyone around her saw her for who she really was.
How could she have missed it? She was a fool to think that others wouldn’t notice, and the burning shame ran deep inside her. So much shame.
Her groom knew how beautiful she really was, and He wanted her desperately to be His. His view of her was not influenced by what others thought of her. He only saw her for what she was created to be… Perfect, Blameless, Set Apart, His Beloved, His Bride.
She turned to run away, but His Voice stopped her, “Come to Me.”
With a quivering lip she replied, “I can’t. If you only knew how horrible I have been.”
Gently, lovingly He said to her again, “Come to Me. I love you. I have always loved you.”
Again, she shook her head and looked down at herself – she was a mess which was a fitting reflection of her life. The late nights, the hurtful words, the need for attention and approval, the way that she had been so unfaithful. He had loved her for as long as she could remember. He had always been so loving, gentle, and patient with her.
She left to go find other adventures. She followed the crowd, she loved the excitement, she sought acceptance and love in all the wrong places. It was so much fun, for a while, but over time it took its toll.
Friends betrayed her, her lifestyle was exhausting, and her need for acceptance and approval only grew into a deeper void that nothing could fill. Yet He continued to pursue her and He never gave up on her – even after she gave up on herself.
As she stood there she knew that nothing was hidden. He knew about all of it. Somehow instinctively, deep down, she knew all along that He knew all the places she had been and all the things she had done. Yet she felt loved for the first time that she could really remember.
Tears flowed freely and the accusatory murmur of the crowd around her grew louder. She crumpled into a heap on the floor and wept. “I am so sorry. I was so wrong. How can you ever forgive me?”
He kneeled beside her and put His Hand on her head –she sobbed. Then He spoke to her in a way that was so familiar, “I never wanted you to leave but I couldn’t stop you. I have never stopped loving you. You are forgiven, and I want you to be Mine.”
She couldn’t believe it. Here He was offering unconditional love and forgiveness while she had nothing to offer in return.
As if He could read her mind He spoke again, “I never wanted anything from you but your love and devotion to Me. I know you think you owe Me something, but you don’t. I simply want you to commit to Me and share this love story. You are not the only one who needs this, there are so many others just like you.”
And suddenly it clicked. All those years of feeling this tug within her heart, never quite able to find her place, knowing that there was something out there to fill the deep ache inside her soul. And she knew He was exactly what she had been searching for.
This kind of love that never fails, never gives up, never ceases, never stops pursuing –she suddenly saw herself just as He saw her – forgiven, radiant, dressed in white, a beautiful unblemished bride, overjoyed with Perfect Love from Him.
She no longer heard the accusations of the crowd around her, she wasn’t distracted, she had her eyes fixed straight ahead, on Him – Jesus Christ, Her Beloved Bridegroom and Savior. She had to share this love story.
Oh Sweet Jesus – what a Perfect Lover and Healer of our souls. Tattered, messy, broken, ashamed – You see us for who we are created to be. May we see ourselves through Your Eyes and may we view those around us as You do. Forgive us for running from You, for being unfaithful to You, and for looking for love in places only You can fill. May we walk as a beautiful bride dressed in radiance, sharing Your story of love with those around us. Would You help us to fix our eyes upon You and not get distracted by the noise around us? Thank You for loving us first, perfectly and unconditionally and for never giving up.
© 2021 by Annah Matthews. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Tuesday, 27 July 2021.