11.23.2014

bride and groom

Yesterday, I had the absolute honor of being a bridesmaid in my dear friend’s wedding. She was the most beautiful bride, dressed in white, adorned in a wreath of flowers, framed with her curly locks, and shining radiance out from her eyes. Rachel met Jason over two years ago, and it didn’t take her long to realize he was the man she wanted to spend her life with. She waited and waited for this special day when they would be joined together in spirit, never to be separated. It was beautiful to see her eagerness and sincere, sacrificial love for her groom.

The day finally came. All of us girls were together in the bridal suite, preparing ourselves for the ceremony. Perhaps the most calm among us was Rachel, whose mind occasionally drifted from the preparations to simply anticipating being with her groom so soon. Even when little things arose to fluster her, it didn’t take her long to step back and remember what she was preparing herself for, and it gave her peace and excitement to move forward. As much as she loved her bridesmaids, she was ready to see Jason, and you could see her glowing at the thought of him.

Soon, the ceremony had begun. The bridal party processed down the aisle, then eagerly awaited Rachel’s appearance. As she came down on her father’s arm, she was breathtaking indeed. But my eyes were torn between watching my dear Rachel, and watching the face of her groom. Jason could barely control the smile breaking across his face, coupled with the tears filling his eyes and dripping down his cheeks. His face was so clearly overwhelmed with his love for this girl’s soul. After her father presented her, he grabbed her hands so quickly that Mr. Brazell even dropped a few papers in his hand. But Jason’s eyes didn’t leave Rachel’s face. Nor did her eyes leave his.

As the ceremony proceeded, the prayer was prayed, the message was given, the parents prayed again, the vows were said, the rings were given, scripture was read, and a song was sung, Rachel and Jason barely looked away from each other. I was standing on the left side, where I could only see Jason’s face. Everyone who watched him was amazed at the tender but overflowing love that flowed out of his eyes and soft expressions. Throughout the ceremony, Rachel cried some tears of joy and deep emotion. Jason reached up and softly wiped them from her eyes. His love for her brought tears to my eyes, and the eyes of many others. What a blessing they are.

I came home today, and a few of Macaela’s friends were here. As they were leaving, Jose asked how the wedding had been, and I told him it was wonderful. He asked an unexpected question: “How did the groom look at the bride?” I ran to try to find a picture capturing what I’ve just described, but I didn’t have one, so I briefly told him. Walking out the door, he said, “Now just imagine Jesus as the groom and you are the bride!”

Wow.

Ephesians 5 tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” God’s people, His church, is called “the bride of Christ.” And I think Jose’s reminder is more poignant now than ever before. Even just reading what I’ve already written, both about Rachel and Jason, there are so many stunning parallels to us and to Jesus. But to summarize, this is what I find so beautiful:

Jesus loves us. He is overwhelmed with joy at each one of us that chooses to follow Him down the aisle because He loves us. We can live in the peace and eagerness of a bride who is deeply, sincerely, sacrificially, and unconditionally loved.










2 comments:

  1. Wow! What a beautiful bride Rachel is! She looks so precious! Thank you, Shelby, for sharing this. This is Olivia Michel from Montana. Maybe you remember me from Survival those few (but seemingly long) years ago. You staffed my team there, and then came back to Montana with Rachel the following Spring and staffed our state class. I have been following your blog for about 2 months now, and was so excited when I found it because it gave me a chance to see the way that you have dealt and still deal with difficult situations, sorrow, and happiness! You have helped me to realize that though life can be overwhelming at times, and peace is long in coming, everything is just a small part of God's greater plan that is being brought together by every one of us who are called to be His children and work together for His purpose.
    When you and Rachel returned to Montana after what had happened at Survival, you reminded me that "While sorrow lasts for a night, joy comes in the morning." I hope and pray that Rachel is experiencing that joy, full and overflowing, through her new found happiness in Jason!
    I love reading your blog because you focus on the truth's and promises that are found in the scripture that can be applied to daily life. Sometimes it is hard for me to remember those truth's, and you encourage me to go back and re-read those passages that I always thought I understood, but have never actually fully comprehended. You have helped me to better understand that no matter how strange and overwhelming a situation might be, God is always there to lead us through those difficult seasons of our lives, and the more I lean on Him to support me through those times, the easier those trials are for me to deal with, resulting in a deeper love for God and a greater portion of joy that I recieve when those trials are over.
    I have been blessed to see the beautiful women that both you and Rachel have become through your work for Christ and the love that you pour out for others! You are such a blessing to your students and friends, and I pray that God will continue to guide you and use you for His kingdom! Thank you for being willing to open up your heart to your readers and sharing with both them and myself both the pleasures and the pain that you experience, and how God helps you through daily life; and the happiness that you experience when you finally find out why He has called you to do certain things! You are an added blessing to his kingdom! May God continue to bless you,
    Olivia Michel

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    1. Olivia, it is so amazing to hear from you! I absolutely remember you; my team from Survival is unforgettable! Thank you so much for your incredibly encouraging words. Even just reading what you wrote here has reminded me of important truths and beautiful principles that God continues weaving throughout our lives. I think I'll read it a few more times to just soak in all those truths some more. :) I would love to hear about where God has taken you in the past 3 1/2 years - feel free to shoot me an email anytime at shelby.abroad@yahoo.com. Thank you again, Olivia! Grace and peace!

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