Monday, 11 July 2011
Warrior Bride Continued - The Bride
No matter which culture we study, there are some constants about civilization. The ritual and ceremony of mating seems to be present everywhere. Becoming a bride, however, seems to be a strictly female understanding. I would hesitate to generalize and say that no man has ever planned a wedding, just as I would not conclude that no woman understands being a warrior. However, as state earlier, these are male/female terms and must be understood to fully grasp the dichotomy of our calling to become the Warrior Bride.
Today, in Western culture, weddings seem to focus on and around the lovely bride. It is the Bride’s day to shine. All of the preparations are made to this end. Color schemes, dress style, men’s tuxedos – everything revolves around the master plan set out by the Bride. Our Bridegroom, however, will not stand for anyone to shine but Him. We prepare, anticipate and wait on the Bridegroom to come, all according to His master plan.
Preparing for the spiritual intimacy, which is likened to the bridal union, can be disturbing for most. For the most part, we are a people of masks and shadows. We let certain individuals get close to us, but by no means do they know the truly worst of us. That would demand risking that love on the altar of intimacy. The only true love that will stand the ‘altar’ test is the one who designed intimacy in the first place, and aches to share it with us again.
Intimacy with our Commander/Bridegroom is acknowledged in the preparation of our lives as a fragrance to His nostrils. Our heart and soul and mind become our altar of intimacy. We place our happiness and hurt, our desires and despair on the altar and allow the Lover of our Soul to have His way. Clothing ourselves in humility, we are sometimes overcome with the anticipation of wearing the wedding garments of His choosing.
One of the biggest responsibilities of the Bride in preparation for Her Bridegroom is to come to Him undefiled. Regardless of the trappings that would sway her from her focus, it is still her response to her Lover to remain pure in thought, word and deed. This would entail motives of our heart, lusts of the flesh, even insecurities that would weigh us down, causing us to settle for second best.
Part of the ritual the Bride must face is leaving her House of Origin and become known as His. The anticipation of hearing Him whisper our name as He calls us to His chamber leads us on. Prior to the wedding, as the Bride, we must allow our walls and defenses to come down, so as to be able to hear the Bridegroom’s whisper of love. We must allow Him to know us at the deepest level, thus allowing us to know Him in return. In worship, sometimes it is difficult for us to sing about the ‘kisses of your mouth’ and the ‘embrace of true love’. Our Divine Beloved demands nothing less than our whole hearts in devotion.
Part of the trouble with true intimacy is that it takes such a time commitment. We see this in our day to day relationships very clearly. A man can say that he is intimate with his wife, but has he let down the walls of his heart where true intimacy begins. And has his wife, in turn accepted this man with everything she may find lying beyond those walls. The truth of intimacy is unconditional love along with unwavering honesty.
In our age of instant successes and instant gratification, even great spiritual truths and quickly replaced by faster, easier methods. Our lesson should be learned from the One who has waited for us. His patience as our Bridegroom should be the standard by which our work is undertaken.
In actuality, patient persevering would be the common denominator between the two extremes of becoming the Warrior Bride. The patient endurance of training works alongside the patient preparations for the Marriage Supper.
Dare we take our Glorious Warrior Bride in the Bridal Chamber? Grimy, dirty and sore, our natural instincts tell us that we must be cleaned up before we enter. What we also have missed in our earthly relationships is the process by which we come together. In our societies, we must be cleaned up and dressed up for our big day. We hide all the flaws with the beautiful wedding garments – silks and taffetas. We decorate with garlands of beautiful flowers, their scent following us as we go.
Our Bridegroom, however, wants us without the polish and the fragrances. He wants to be the One who strips the muddy garments of war from us. He wants to be the One who prepares us Himself. Coming to Him as we are, allows our Beloved to rub salve into our wounds. It allows this patient Lover to fragrance us with His own passion. Not until we stand before Him stripped of all our essential accessories and beautiful trappings, will we know true intimacy.
The battle weary Bride comes to her Beloved with scars and bruises all received on behalf of this one she adores. How can there be anything but the highest adoration as our Commander/Beloved escorts us with gentleness and whispers of devotion to where our true Bridal clothes lay. As He places His fragrant garland on our head we will truly know that intimacy every Bride longs for.
It is the wellspring of our hearts from which our Beloved wants to drink. This is the reason we must guard our hearts above all else. Bitter water does nothing to quench His thirst for our affection, attention and love. It is our responsibility to take an active role in becoming pure, clean water – pure and undefiled, thus our Beloved may be satisfied from our own well.
Let us parallel our responsibilities as preparing to be the Warrior Bride, to the wonderful and exquisite example of Queen Esther. She is a prime picture of our role, as the Bride in anticipation of coming to her Bridegroom. As a young woman, she answered a call to “come and prepare herself’ for the King, her potential bridegroom. As was the custom of her day, this preparation time took one year, the first six months devoted to oil of myrrh, and six months to sweet odors. Many parallels can be drawn from her dedication to becoming the queen.
First let us consider even the possibility of accepting the call of the Bridegroom to “Come and prepare thyself”. Down through the centuries the cry has been echoed through the chambers of Christendom. Men and women have fallen to their knees in humility and shame in the knowledge that without the grace and mercy of our Bridegroom, there is only certain death.
It is our choice whether to enter this quest for ultimate intimacy or not. No one – not even our Beloved Commander – wants a reluctant Bride. It is our job to enter the race, to begin the preparations and to ensure that our heart is steady and beats with a single and sure passion.
One of the goals and purposes of the Warrior Bride is to rule and judge and reign with our Commander Bridegroom. We may not, however, take part in those divine interactions until we have willingly and consciously entered the purification process. It is at this door most of us hesitate. This is the time when the most crucial of decisions will be made, and this is the time that we look back to during days of difficulty. Once through this door of deeper commitment there is no way to be back.
It demands a choice. Surrendering and submitting to this cleansing period is to some the most awesome and most terrifying choice of their lives. It stirs up deeper commitment, deeper faith and deeper love. At the same time, purification also insists on letting go of the securities we have held on to so tightly in the past.
The ‘oil of myrrh’ speaks of difficulties, of frustrations, and perhaps even of sadness. Myrrh is bitter. It is not the sweet smelling scent of joy and happiness associated with intimacy and love and betrothal. It is precisely the oil of myrrh that some of us need to rid us of our distraction in order to bring clarity and focus.
Where will we allow these tests of our love and passions take us? As we stand at this door counting the cost of our purification, we decide then and there the road we will choose. At the first episode of difficulty, will we embrace the tests as part of the process, or will we shrug off this call as too heavy, too difficult, too much. It is vital to keep before us that our Commander/Bridegroom wants us to trust Him. Trust becomes a much clearer picture as we bathe and ready ourselves in the oil of myrrh. Submitting ourselves to the cleansing process, our Bridegroom knows that the stench of what we are in ourselves must be removed before the sweet odors of what we are in Him can be added.
For some, the oil of myrrh will mean the deep valleys of pain, and the caverns of loneliness, but always the joy of the deeper intimacy each encounter brings is ever present. Again, we may not do the cleansing ourselves, for we cannot see ourselves in the honesty we need. Our job is to submit and surrender to our Bridegroom’s cleansing. It is His discretion, which decides where the cleansing ritual begins and ends. For some, it is over quickly and submission is a total gift to our Bride3groom. For most of us however, there are day by day struggles that make the journey through the ‘oil of myrrh’ process difficult, long and painful.
Our Bridegroom does not leave us without hope and joy and peace. No matter what the situation is, no matter how love and faith are being tested, our Bridegroom wraps Himself around our souls and walks us through each step we take to greater knowledge.
He provides the peace necessary to wake up tomorrow morning and know that He is in control. It is this peace that allows the oil of myrrh to build the foundation of trust we so desperately need now and in the days to come. It is this foundation of peace that allows our Warrior Bride to go through battlegrounds and the Bridal Chamber and all the Kings’ Courts in between, walking tall in the knowledge that Her Beloved/Commander awaits Her as the focus of His love.
Her confidence lies in the hope awaiting Her. After the Warrior Bride submits to the oil of myrrh, following our Queen Esther’s example, her next surrender is to the sweet odors. This period of time provides the definition of grace in our lives. Receiving grace, giving grace, living out the true grace that only our Beloved/Commander can bestow. Our sweet odor begins when we can place ourselves in our Beloved’s hands and He shows us who we are. Our understanding of the grace He bestows to us allows us to bestow even more upon others. The sweet odor comes, as we become the reflection of His glory. We start to change, to reflect our Bridegroom’s character and recall the mysteries that His grace alone can share.
If our goal is to reign at His side and to have His favor, our murky thoughts and foggy vision cannot cloud our judgment. Our vision needs to be clear and our heart unfettered by the things of this world, so we may become an extension of His grace in our thoughts, words and deeds. As His Warrior Bride, His trust in us grows as we submit to allowing His grace to make our lives a sweet odor.
All of this is preparation. All of this is part of accepting an answering the challenge of the purification process. It is through these times of preparation that our Warrior Bride becomes strong of heart, diligent in love, and faithful in service. All in the absolute trust that we have found favor with the one we have come to adore.
In anticipation of our heart embracing the chance to soar with the eagle, our Bridegroom makes preparations for our royal apparel. Allowing Him to clothe us in dignity and favor, we allow ourselves to rise above the petty and childish issues that once turned our heads and captured our attention. Our devotion commands that we clothe ourselves with the garments of His choosing. At times these seem difficult and an extreme contradiction. His dignity, our humility, His strength, our weakness, His love, our never-ending hope.