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A Glorious Shadow

His warm eyes pierce through me with love and joy at the end of the aisle. Quiet excitement and disbelief carelessly overtake his face at the sight of me. The journey towards him feels like an eternity. I’m sure that I’m dreaming this moment. Thankful tears well up in my eyes, and I’m amazed at what this means. I’m going to be with him forever on this earth, running to the throne of the Most High, side by side, hand in hand. I’m going to be with him every day. I’m going to have him with me to push me and support me. I’m going to be his beloved and cherished wife.

I daydream about this daily without fail, hitting the replay button over and over again in my mind, fantasizing about the day when I’ll finally marry my best friend and the life that will begin thereafter.  No more solemn six hour drives back to Virginia by myself. No more painful goodbyes, knowing it’ll be at least a month or more before we next see each other. No more worrying about having the money to see each other. No more having to talk only through a computer screen. No more learning how to better love and push each other from states away. No more separate friends groups, separate lives.

Unity, in every sense of the word.

There’s nothing wrong with looking forward to marriage. There’s nothing wrong with this desire. It is a holy, beautiful covenant that the Lord has created for man and woman to band together for His glory. It is the closest imitation of our marriage to the Groom that exists here on earth. However, there are some dangers to the heart that come with this desire, and they are important to note.

Impatience.

Sometimes – more than I’d like to admit – I become unbelievably impatient. I get tired of the business of where I am now and all of the commitments demanding my attention. I get overwhelmed by the season I’m in and long for the next; I start to wish I were already in the next stage of life, where by God’s grace, I’ll be a wife, settled into a church with good community, and working a writing job while working on my book. I get lost in desiring the future instead of being fully immersed in the present, forgetting that I’m here now because God wants me here, now.

Fear.

Other times, I get fearful that it won’t happen; that something will go wrong, and my relationship will be plucked right from the palms of my hands. Or maybe I’m sure it’ll happen, but not when I want it to. Something will surely get in the way. So excitement must be avoided at all costs. Thoughts of it must be far from my mind. I’ve gotta protect myself, I think, which leads either to “run, Arly!” or “don’t even think about it –ever” or sometimes, with the help of the Holy Spirit, “either way, God is good, Arly.” Sadly, the last one isn’t my mind and heart’s first reaction nearly enough. Instead, I let this destructive emotion guide my actions and logic, holding me captive in its unstable walls.

Idolatry.

Worst of all, there are times where I find myself thinking more about my wedding day more than the coming of Christ, my true Love and Savior. 

Whoa.

I’ll spend my daydreams on my future husband and our life together, so much that I barely leave room for desperately hopeful thoughts of the day when I finally get to enter the gates of my Father, meeting Him face to face with none of my human limitations to interfere. I ponder the wonderful life that I’ll experience as a wife here on earth more than attempting to fathom the unfathomably perfect and heavenly life I’ll live for eternity with God, who so graciously and relentlessly sought after me so that I could have this life one day.

Why do I do this? Why do I let fear of losing this not-yet-received gift consume me? Why do I idolize this God-made – yet earthly – gift of marriage? Why do I become impatient, wishing that I were married now, instead of being content with where the Lord has me now? Well, I have an idea. It’s because I’ve forgotten something essential:

Marriage is nothing but a mere, insufficient shadow of my marriage to the Lamb, Christ the Lord, and it is not for me, or for us, but for Him.

The day I walk down the aisle towards my best friend and lover, will be a beautiful day, and the journey that follows will be trialing and magnificent at once. I can barely imagine the trip it will be, and yes, I am uncontrollably excited for it.

But I can wait for it, because just like everything else in this life here on this temporary tent called “Earth,” the purpose of my future covenant with this man is solely to further glorify Jesus and expand His Kingdom. All that God has laid before me in the season that I’m currently in is for me to glorify Him with, just as much as my marriage will be. Just as soon as I’ve longed to be somewhere other than where I am, I’ve forgotten the purpose of my life and all that’s within it. As soon as I become impatient, I’ve made marriage about me, not about God.

I don’t have any reason to be fearful, whether it be of God taking it from me, or of it not happening on my timeline. It is not even for me, and when it happens, it will be when the Lord wants it to happen – when me and this brother in Christ of mine can best serve Jesus and spur one another on in our walks with Him. If it doesn’t happen, it’s because I can either better serve the Lord alone, or with someone else. Even more than this, why fear something that is but a shadow of the real thing?

It is not the real thing.

Marriage is an imitation. It is nothing in the light of eternity, and if it’s anything at all, it only is because it should push me towards my God and put His love and sovereignty on display for the world to see. I may desire this beautiful gift, but to fear the possibility of never receiving or not receiving it on my own time is to forget that it is not the end in and of itself; it is a fiery, flaming arrow straight to the day that we, the bride, are brought down the heavenly aisle to Christ, our Groom.

Most importantly, I surely shouldn’t idolize it. Not only is it sinful, but it is senseless. To sin and make a god out of a shadow is the silliest thing I’ve ever done, and the silliest thing you’ll ever do. Thank You, Jesus, for the possible privilege of being a wife here on earth one day, but if not, it’s okay, because the real thing is with You, and that is sure.

“…‘Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed with God’s glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal.” Revelation 21:9-11

This is the eternal wedding day that we have to look forward to. This is what our marriage here on earth is to imitate. It is a mere shadow, and it is for the glory of God. It is alright to desire wedding day, and it’s even alright to think about it often. But there is no need to fear, there is no need for impatience, there is no room for idolatry.

It is a shadow of the real thing. Nothing but a glorious shadow.

“For your husband is your Maker – His name is Yahweh of Hosts – and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.” Isaiah 54:5