Have you ever attended a wedding in a garden? I’ve had the privilege of officiating several of them. It’s beautiful … as long as the weather cooperates.
Now, Kelly and I would have never been brave enough to plan an outdoor wedding. We both value control—or at least the illusion of control—too highly to plan a wedding that would be at the mercy of unpredictable elements. Nevertheless, when a bride and a groom can pull off a garden wedding under a bright blue sky, it’s a wonderful thing to behold.
The first wedding celebration took place in a garden.
The final wedding celebration will take place in paradise.
Understanding the first and final weddings can give us a better understanding of the big picture of marriage.
The first marriage
God formed Adam from the dust of the earth and placed him in the garden. All was well for a while. However, it didn’t take long before Adam recognized it wasn’t good for him to be alone. God saw what was going on, placed Adam in a deep sleep, and formed Eve from his rib. When Adam woke up, rubbed his eyes, and looked around his perfect complement was standing there in front of him.
He wrote the first love song on the spot! [Cue “At Last” by Etta James.]
God said, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh,” (Genesis 2:24). Some time later, his Son would add, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate,” (Matthew 19:6).
Little could Adam and Eve have known but their wedding in the garden was pointing toward something far beyond the two of them. Their marriage was the first pixel in a far bigger picture.
The final marriage
One day, maybe sooner than we realize, there will be another wedding celebration in paradise, one that will put all of the others to shame. The groom, Jesus, will return in great splendor to claim his bride, the Church, as his own. As he brings heaven to earth, he’ll draw her to his side, clothe her in radiant white, and seal the vows for which he bled in front of the approving eyes of our heavenly Father.
At this wedding ceremony, all of the pixels will have been set in place and the picture will finally shine in ultra-high-definition brilliance. We’ll finally see the big picture of marriage as we celebrate with Jesus.
Two takeaways for all the marriages in between
It truly is beautiful to consider the significance of the wedding in the garden in the light of the final wedding in paradise. But, what does that mean to us? Why is this important for those of us who are struggling to make our marriages work in the here and now?
There are two takeaways for all of us.
First, your marriage points to something bigger. Your marriage may only be a pixel in the big picture. Shine with all the brilliance you can muster. You’ll lack clarity sometimes. You may feel burnt out. But, understanding your marriage in light of God’s will for his church, your Savior’s love for you, and the power the Spirit provides will help you to faithfully point to the truth of God’s redeeming love for the world.
Second, your marriage can make you holy. There’s no other human relationship that has the same sanctifying potential as the marriage relationship. Don’t resist the work God does in your life through your spouse. Embrace it. Allow yourself to be challenged, stretched, helped, and held accountable. And, do the same for your spouse. God intends for your marriage to be a major factor in making you into the image of his son.
Don’t give up. If you keep your eyes focused on the big picture of marriage your marriage could become more than you ever imagined.
Take a few minutes to reflect on these questions. And, feel free to leave a comment below.
- Think back to your wedding. What was it that made that day special or beautiful?
- In what ways does your marriage point to Jesus and his love for the Church?
- In what ways has your spouse helped you become better? In what ways have you helped your spouse grow?