The Preparations of a Bride

Recently I had an afternoon off work on a Friday and thought I'd start the wbeekend with a quick pat-on-the-back reward from the coffeehouse on the way to other errands.  eing a rewards member, I had earned enough stars to indulge in my favorite... the Venti Chai Tea Latte with 3 extra pumps of Chai and half a pump of mocha.  (SO GOOD!)  

It seemed like an average day with my normal order, but when I got to the pick up window the barista made a strange apology.  "There will be a word on your cup, but don't freak out.  It's ok." 

I took my drink from her and curious examined my cup only to find in bold letters the word "Bride" written there.  I thought, "how exciting!  I didn't know I was getting married today!"  (My next thought was, "I didn't even know [my celebrity crush] is in town today." - but I digress. LOL) 

My mind went on a little tangent just then thinking about all the things I'd be doing if I were getting married - things that were so much more glamorous than returning a purchase to Hobby Lobby and buying kombucha at the health food store.  Nothing so mundane would disrupt a wedding day.  On an actual wedding day, I'd be getting my makeup done, my ha'r did, a mani/pedi, maybe even a pre-wedding massage to calm me down given my inclination to anxiety after all.  I would have spent the weeks ahead finding a perfect dress and veil, favorite flowers, right music and well before that I'd have found the perfect (for me) man in case my celebrity crush doesn't work out. 

To be honest, I got a little overwhelmed.  A LOT goes in to getting married and being a bride.  You want everything to be flawless on such an important day, and I was not prepared.  It made me kind of grateful I was only running errands and not actually getting ready for my wedding.  (Kind of... I said "kind of".) 

Being a bride has always been a big deal.  In scripture, the book of Esther says she went through a year of beauty treatments before she was presented to the King.  (Esther 2:12)  Six months with oil of myrrh and another six with perfumes and ointments.  She had to be flawless, without blemish.  And who wouldn't want to be?! 

What's even more beautiful about the preparation of the bride is this - it teaches us so much about our relationship with Jesus and about repentance.  No one really likes that word, do they?  Repentance.  It quite often conjures up a negative connotation of chastising and punishment and strong-arming our will into change.  Sorrowfully leaving old ways to "try to be better".  In truth, it's much more like becoming a bride. 

Tonight began the high holy days of the Jewish calendar - Rosh Hashanah known as the Feast of Trumpets (the beginning of the Jewish New Year), the Day of Atonement, and The Feast of Tabernacles.  They are the most holy observances in Judaism and the next events in prophecy - the trumpet sound, the Judgment and the tabernacling of Jesus with His people on earth in a millennial reign.

But the days leading up to these holy days are days of repentance, of examining your heart deeply and daily to see if there is anything unpleasing to God the Father.  They are known as the Ten Days of Repentance and they fall in the Hebrew month of Elul.  And what is Elul - Jewish scholars tell us Elul, the name of the month before the high holy days is an acronym of Song of Songs 6:3, "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine".  This time of repentance is not rooted in sorrow or shame or will-breaking punishment.  It is rooted in anticipation of a perfect union with the Lover of your soul.  It's a season of devotion, of connecting with the heart of our Beloved even as we await His return.

Repentance is the beauty treatment of the bride before her Bridegroom calls for the trumpet to sound signaling His return for her for their wedding.  It's not the breaking of our will in reluctant compliance, but a willing healing of our wounds and removal of our blemishes to the utter delight of our Groom.

So how are you preparing?  In the spirit of a bride, what is your "beauty regimen"?  Are you self-examining your heart and soul?  Are you applying the healing salve of the Word to your wounds?  Do you allow the oil of the Holy Spirit to soften the callouses you've allowed to build up over your hurts?  We belong to our Beloved and our Beloved is ours.  Let's be ready for the wedding as a radiant bride.