I remember the day Michael asked me to be his wife. He wanted to go hike to the top of a nearby mountain. I wasn’t too crazy about the idea, but I saw he had already prepared his backpack for the adventure. How could I say no?
Aside from the frequent breaks I had to take to catch my breath and rest my achy legs, the trek up the mountain was nice. I’ve always enjoyed being out in nature and drinking in God’s handiwork. After we made it to the top, Michael unpacked his bag. He laid out a blanket, some snacks, and a CD player (for those too young to know what that is, the modern day equivalent would be an ipod).
We chatted and enjoyed our time together. Then he said he wanted me to hear a song by country singer Michael Peterson, “From Here to Eternity,” and he got it ready to play. As soon as the song started, he began to sing along.
I did everything I could to get you here tonight
Without telling you why
Now girl if you only would please hold out your hand
And just close your eyes
I’ve been dying to ask you this one burning question
‘Will you be mine?’
It took me a minute to process what was happening. I heard the song, but the words took a few minutes to sink in. And before I knew it, Michael was kneeling before me with a ring in his hand. I think I was shaking as he placed it on my finger after seeing my smiles and my nod of yes. I remember there were people passing by, and one woman shouted, “Whoo hoo! There are still good men in this world!” To be honest, the whole event, 16 plus years later, is a bit of a blur, but I do remember the immense joy I felt upon hearing him ask me to be his wife: I was loved by this great guy, and now, I was forever his and he mine.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, these thoughts concerning the engagement to my husband have me thinking about the day I got engaged to my ultimate love, Jesus. The day I asked Jesus to come into my heart and life was the day I accepted the engagement ring He offers us all in His outstretched hand. It was the day of my betrothal to the King of Kings.
A Bible study entitled Restore My Heart, written by Denise Glenn, further explores this analogy by looking at Jewish customs surrounding marriage. Glenn draws parallels from those customs to what Jesus has done for us — He being the groom and we (the church) being His bride. One particularly impressive aspect of Jewish tradition is that of the arrabon.
Basically, a Jewish man — after paying the bride price for the woman his father chooses for him to marry — gives his chosen bride an engagement ring (arrabon) — if she decides that, yes, she would like to marry him. The arrabon is like “earnest money” — a deposit to ensure that he will follow through with the marriage. It’s a betrothal ring much like the American engagement ring custom.
Jesus has done the same for us — His bride, the church. He paid our bride price with His death on the cross for our sins. After we decide that, yes, we would like to accept his sacrifice for our sins, He then gives us an arrabon — the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the guarantee that one day Jesus will come for His bride, and following that, we will be at the marriage supper of the lamb.
For those of us who struggle with finding our identity in Christ, the image of Christ as our bridegroom is a beautiful picture we should use to remind ourselves of who we truly are in Him. In it, I see three principles about the believer that are central to knowing our true selves.
Who you are in Christ:
1. You are loved.
Ephesians 5:25 admonishes husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church.” To restate, husbands are to love their wives as the Bridegroom (Jesus) loved His bride (us, the church) — by sacrificing Himself for her. By paying our bride price and securing our engagement. Jesus gave up so very much for you and me because of His great love for us. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world [you, me, everyone] that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Scripture time and time again validates this about our identity: We are loved.
2. You are sanctified.
Ephesians 5 continues in verses 26 and 27 by explaining that Christ paid the price for His bride so “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Our Bridegroom cleanses us, makes us holy and sets us apart. Each of us is special to Him. As a man chooses one woman to be his wife for the entirety of this life so Christ sets us apart (sanctifies us) from all others for eternity. This is who you are in Christ — chosen.
3. You are worthy to be rejoiced over.
Isaiah 62:5 explains, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” This is an amazing image to let settle into our hearts and minds. Jesus rejoicing over you. He is delighted by you, and you bring Him great joy.
It is like when the bridegroom sees his bride walking down the aisle toward him. He is excited by her and proudly smiles as she makes her way toward him. Imagine your Jesus, your bridegroom, looking at you in a similar manner. This is yet another reality of who the believer truly is in Christ.
If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are His bride — loved, sanctified, and continuously rejoiced over. Let these truths settle deeply in your heart and mind. This is who you are in Him.
However, if you’ve never come to a point in your life where you have received Him as your Lord and Savior, let me encourage you to take a moment and accept the engagement ring He purchased at great cost to Himself. He is down on one knee, proposing marriage.
If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Don’t waste another minute. Let your engagement begin. It’s as if Jesus is singing to you now — as my husband, Michael, did to me that day he proposed marriage — the chorus of Peterson’s song:
From here to eternity
I’m asking you to share your life with me
Now and forever I guarantee
I’ll always stay by your side
I promise my love to you
I’m willing and able and ready to
Whatever you need I am here for you
And I’ll always be
From here to eternity
Hear Him. Say Yes! I guarantee, you won’t regret it.