I bought my wedding dress before we were engaged. At that point the proposal was really just a formality–we both knew. We’d looked at rings and talked about dates. I was just home for a few days. As my mom and I looked at the calendar and contemplated the realities of long-distance wedding planning, we both came to the same realization: we needed to go wedding dress shopping.
We found the dress in a tiny little boutique. We hadn’t really expected to find anything in this particular shop, but there it was. The dress. I think I knew as soon as I put it on–this was it. You dream about it for years, looking through bridal magazines as if finding the right dress will magically bring the right man along. Then when it’s finally your turn you try on dress after dress until you turn around and see yourself in the mirror. and you know: this is it. This is the dress you’re going to wear when you walk down the aisle and change your name and change your life. It’s the bridge between past and present; the bright marker on that dividing line between being two and two becoming one. It’s all your hopes and dreams and fears wrapped up in satin and pearls. It’s your wedding gown.
I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:1)
I rejoice in God because he has clothed me as a bride for the bridegroom. He has given me garments of salvation; he has dressed me in his righteousness. When all I had to offer were the filthy rags of my pitiful attempts at righteousness, God cleansed me and made me new. I brought nothing to the table; He gave everything.
In the Old Testament, a covenant between two parties was sometimes symbolized by the trading of clothes. Clothes were a symbol of the person and the position. When Jonathan and David made their covenant of friendship, Jonathan took off his robe and armor and gave it to David (1 Samuel 18:1-4). The robe was a symbol of his position as son of the king. In giving it to David, Jonathan was giving David his status and authority. He was surrendering his right to the throne.
That’s what God does for us. When we enter into the covenant of salvation made possible by the blood of Christ, Jesus gives us his robe. He clothes us with his righteousness. We become sons and daughters of God, co-heirs with Christ, sharing in his authority and victory. It’s not a status of our own making, but the result of him sharing his status with us.
I gave him sorrow, but he gave me joy.
I gave him poverty, but he gave me the wealth of his grace.
I gave him brokenness, but he gave me restoration.
I gave him rags, but he gave me a bridal gown.
God doesn’t look at me and see my failures. He sees me arrayed as a bride in all her splendor; clothed in the fabric of his grace. What can I do but rejoice in him?
Come, Lord Jesus.
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