It was early September and the heat of the day had finally begun to dissipate as the sun was setting over the Texas Hill Country. All the guests were seated and most were doing their best to stay cool with the ice water and fans handed out to them. This was the day Jenny and I had been waiting for. This was the day of our wedding.
Never had I been so anxious, yet at the same time so confident and sure, about anything like marrying Jenny. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my days learning about the joys and pains of marriage and to learn it as her husband.
My clearest memory was of the processional. As I stood up front, my eyes scanned through the seated guests. The moment the music changed and the violinist began playing Jenny’s favorite hymn, my eyes — and not just my eyes but my heart, my soul, my entire being — focused toward the back, searching for my bride. She emerged in an elegant dress, escorted by her father, and the two gently walked to the patient tempo of the hymn. As she made her way toward me, I couldn’t help but think about all that we’d gone through and all the hope I had for our future. It’s amazing how many thoughts and images surge through your mind when emotions are high.
I think the word that best captures the essence of that moment is anticipation. Whether it’s your own wedding or the wedding of someone you know and love, you can’t escape the emotion that comes with this kind of anticipation. There’s just so much going on inside the heart and it’s both wonderful and frightening in all the right ways. And when you deeply love the person or the couple getting married — be it your bride, your groom, or a sibling or friend whose soul is intimately knit with yours — the intensity of all that anticipation gives way only to celebration.
The whole experience gives us a sense of what it’s like to enjoy the present union, as well as anticipate the future union, of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church. We look forward to the day when all of creation will experience the height of anticipation and celebration as our King and his Bride are in complete union, totally free from the sin and brokenness we’ve known. We look forward to when we who are the Bride may experience the unbounded fullness of abiding and dwelling in Him and He in us.
Until that time comes, we would do well to stoke the fire of anticipation, especially in the midst of the sin and suffering within us and around us. We’ve already been told how this grand story turns out and it’s a wonderful ending! If the new heavens and new earth are our future, then how we live in the meantime reflects our hope in the one whom we’re anticipating.
Why would we who were undeservingly rescued from God’s wrath and who were brought into his family as sons and daughters embody anything other than the grace that’s been given to us? Grace is the dress in which we’re clothed; grace is the music of our processional.
So, then, retelling and rehearsing the gospel of grace in our churches, our families, our marriages, our friendships, in every aspect of our lives, isn’t merely a matter of duty and obligation. More importantly, it’s a matter of letting our hearts overflow with anticipation that gives way to celebration over the coming of our Bridegroom, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
1. What’s something over which you’ve experienced a deep anticipation? A trip, an accomplishment, a wedding, a reunion? What do you remember about how you felt and what went through your mind?
2. Have you ever experienced excitement and anticipation over Christ, perhaps in reading the Bible, time with other Christians, or involvement in church? If not, why not? Ask the Holy Spirit what might need to change.
3. Grab a friend and read through Revelation 21-22 together (it’s ok to not understand everything and to have lots of questions). What do you learn about Jesus? What do you learn about his people?