By Amanda Seibel
I think it’s safe to say that every person who has ever walked the earth has had a longing to be truly and deeply loved.
From the time we are little, and all through our growing years, we wonder curiously about what love the future might hold. We wonder when it will be our turn to find “the one,” our turn for a beautiful wedding day. We put so much thought into who it could be or what qualities this special person will have. We wonder what our lives together might be like, where we might go, and what we might do.
“Marriage is a gift to be desired and treasured, but it is not the fulfillment of our hearts’ deepest longings.”
When single youths turn into single adults, thoughts like these can easily crowd our mind. Anticipation and longing can easily fill up our heart. Marriage is a beautiful thing to desire. God makes it clear that it is a treasure and, when done in his grace and strength, can even be a taste of heaven on earth. Longing for marriage is not in the least bit wrong.
However, one thing that we can easily forget is that marriage, in all of its beauty and glory, is still at its very best only a taste of heaven.
A Treasured Reminder
Suppose dear friends of yours go off on a long journey and will be away indefinitely. Before leaving, those friends give you a picture of themselves to be remembered by. That picture would most likely become a treasure to you.
When you look at it, you are reminded of the cherished memories that you have with these friends. You think of what it feels like to be in their presence and the joy that they bring to your life. You long for them with a deep ache at times, wishing that you could be in their presence again. In those times of loneliness, you cling to that picture hoping those memories never fade.
Now, say that you receive news that these friends have finally returned from their long journey and that you now have the opportunity to see them face to face. How crazy would it be to refuse to see these friends in person, and instead continue to cling to your tiny, flimsy picture? It would be absurd.
“We rob ourselves of true joy when we idolize the picture of marriage above the reality it represents.”
While the friends are away, the picture is obviously a beautiful treasure, as you wait expectantly for the day when you’re reunited. But when the friends are no longer gone, and the opportunity to spend time with them is suddenly available again, how could you possibly be satisfied with a mere picture? It is impossible to imagine someone who could value a picture of a friend more than a living, breathing, and loving friend.
Don’t Forget the Reality
Just as it would be unthinkable to place more importance on the photo of the person over the actual person, it should also be unthinkable to us to elevate the shadow of Christ’s love over the reality of actually being the bride of Christ.
Marriage has a beautiful, God-given purpose, and it is one of the most incredible ways to display the gospel in this world. But when we spend all our energy clinging to a picture instead of to Christ himself, we end up crumpling and marring the beauty of the picture and forgetting everything that it was intended to represent.
To be deeply loved by another human being is a beautiful desire embedded in every one of us. Anticipating earthly marriage is God’s own design for many (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:6–8; Ephesians 5:31). But above all, may we eagerly await and long for the day when the true wedding comes and the grandest marriage in history takes place. This is a marriage that will not fade, nor ever come to an end. It is the very thing that you and I were created to enjoy forever.
Come to the Feast
Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Revelation 19:6–9)
We rob ourselves of the true joy of God’s grand and awesome plan when we idolize the picture of marriage above the reality. Marriage is a beautiful gift to be cherished and treasured, but it is not the fulfillment of our hearts’ deepest cravings.
We are made for another world, another wedding, another marriage. Let us look with true expectancy and longing for the day when the marriage of the Lamb will come and our hearts’ desires will be met in our perfect God.
**This article originally appeared on Desiring God.