This excerpt is adapted from Catherine Parks and Linda Strode’s new book A Christ-Centered Wedding: Rejoicing in the Gospel on Your Big Day (B&H). You can watch the book trailer here.
Revelation 19 pictures the great culmination of God’s rescue plan—his work of redeeming for himself a people, a bride for his Son. Today we anticipate this future reality as we work and wait, rejoicing in every opportunity to look on the beauty of our Bridegroom and meditate on God’s love for us in Christ.
The more we grow in grace and love, the more we want to be with him. At some point I think every engaged couple says, “We just want to be married.” Similarly, that is the ache in the heart of the Christian growing in love for the Savior—we just want to be with him at last! In a way, planning a wedding is this unique opportunity to do practically what we are all doing figuratively as we await Christ’s return. You look forward with eagerness to the wedding day, but in the meantime there are tasks you must complete and mundane decisions that must be made.
In light of eternity you might think, What does it matter which chairs we choose? Or, Who cares what the centerpieces look like? These are mundane decisions—the banal details that can send an otherwise sane bride over the edge. But while planning a wedding is an unusual experience, having to carry out seemingly pointless tasks is not.
I have two small children, and at this stage in my life many days are a series of seemingly pointless tasks. I change diapers. I wipe noses. I do laundry. I build block towers just to have them knocked down. There are many moments when these things seem insignificant. And yet I know they are not, and here are just two of many reasons why: First, they are the tasks given to me for this season of life by a sovereign God who loves me dearly. Second, these little moments are the means by which God uses me to accomplish a bigger task—loving my children and teaching them the truth of the gospel.
In your wedding planning, you will most likely not care about every decision you must make. And this is not a call to place more importance on things than necessary. I don’t make a huge deal out of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s a sandwich. But I must do it so my children’s tummies will be full and they will know they are loved. And if I get to teach them about Jesus while they are eating, that’s great! But have you ever tried to teach a toddler something when he is hungry? It’s not happening.
Similarly, the chairs, the dishes, the food, the centerpieces—in the light of eternity these little decisions simply do not matter. What does matter is having seats for your guests and feeding them as you celebrate together. The decisions are not the end in and of themselves. Rather, they are the means to an end. And even accomplishing the means can be an act of worship as you faithfully complete the tasks God has given you to do.
The act of making a PB&J or hand-crafting a centerpiece will not earn God’s favor any more than missions work or teaching will. These actions do not save us, and they do not even sanctify us. All of that is the work of God through his Son and the Holy Spirit. I frequently must remind myself of the truth of Ephesians 2:8–10: “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
We were created, in Christ, for good works. But the joy comes in knowing God prepared these works ahead of time and all we must do is walk in them in the faith he has given us. We have all we need to do this, or he wouldn’t give us these works. We read in 2 Peter 1:3 that God’s power has “given us everything required for life and godliness” through knowing him. Everything.
There will be times when you will have the urge to give up or might wonder if it’s really worth all this work. The good news is this—as you plan your wedding and live out this great metaphor for the Christian walk, know that you have all you need in Christ. And truly, all you need is Christ. When we find our identity in him—in being his beloved bride—we can face any task knowing we are equipped.
This is because, as Elyse Fitzpatrick writes, “God has graciously chosen, adopted, and sealed us for his own glory. He is giving himself to us, and if we’re not distracted by our self-efforts and self-trust, we will respond by defining ourselves by that love. Who are you? You’re his, he is yours, and you’ve been cleansed from sin. And that’s all the identity any of us need.”