Jesus has been romancing Audrey for a long time. I know this because she sings to him constantly. She worships him in all that she does. She loves Jesus and knows beyond any doubt that he loves her too. On Sunday she told us she had given her heart to Jesus during the kids’ service at our church home. It was the first time she had publicly admitted this decision on her own. So that afternoon as we relaxed at the park with our friends and I watched Audrey play on the swings with the other kids, God told me, “Today is the day for that photo shoot you’ve been putting off. Today she announced that she is My Bride, today I have dressed her, don’t let her forget who she is.”
The wind was blowing hard on Sunday evening and storms were threatening but we loaded my dress into the back of my van and headed out to the perfect location for this memorable shoot. All along I had been putting off this session because I wanted to bathe her, comb her hair (which takes an hour), blow dry and curl her hair, and find “the perfect” background. But the moment was fresh and I didn’t want Audrey to ever connect having perfectly combed hair and a perfect setting with this day. I don’t ever want her to think she has to “make herself perfect” to be who she is in Christ. He will do that work himself.
When we arrived at Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield and I parked the car I quickly promoted myself in prayer from “Evangelist Mother” to “Disciple Making Mother”. We dragged my dress out of the van along with the reflector and camera and trudged up the hill to the tall grass.
I will now let you in on the conversation we had….
“Mommy, why are we here?”
“This is a battlefield. A lot of people fought and died here because they wanted freedom for themselves and for others. Jesus fought and died for your freedom and mine and for everyone in the world and he won. He came back from death on the cross for us. You’ve accepted that gift from Jesus today and I want you to remember that even in the midst of the battle you can have peace because Jesus is with you. Isn’t it peaceful and quiet out here?”
“The wind is kind of blowing. Jesus makes the wind blow and all these flowers too… I wish he didn’t make bugs though.”
“Even the bugs have a purpose. This is a good spot. Let’s get this dress on you. It’s heavy, are you ready?”
“Yes, do I need to take my shirt off?”
“Yep, let’s put the dress on and then you can slide the shirt down.”
“Wow, this dress is REALLY heavy and WAY too big for me! It won’t stay up, Mommy!”
“We’ll pin it in the back.” I pinned the dress on her and had to let my professional self come out a bit to control the mother in me so I wouldn’t cry at the sight of my baby in my wedding gown just 13 years and a week after I had worn it myself.
“You know, Audrey, the Bible says that Jesus dresses us in his righteousness and makes us a glorious radiant bride without spot or wrinkle. It’s not something he does all at once though, like we are doing with my wedding gown, it will take the rest of your life for him to get you ready for the wedding that is to come.”
“I’m going to marry Jesus?!!”
Smiling, “We have a very limited understanding of what Heaven will be like. But the Bible describes us who believe in Jesus as being his “Bride” who he is preparing for the great wedding feast at the end of time. God came up with the idea of weddings and brides and grooms and wives and husbands for us. When a man and woman get married today, they are telling the story of what the Bible says will happen when Jesus comes back to get us. You’ll start to understand that a bit better as you grow and learn. I don’t completely understand it either. Do you know what it means to have faith in something?”
“Knowing something is real even if you can’t see it?” <—- I was incredibly proud of that answer….
“Yes, faith is believing in something even if you can’t see it. You put your faith in Jesus today even though you don’t completely understand Jesus or God or the Bible quite yet. In your heart you know that he loves you and that he is real, right?”
“Yes! He is real, I know it!”
I hand her a Bible.
“You are not able to read this yet but you will learn to love your Bible because it is God’s story. The Bible reveals God’s plan of salvation through Jesus to us. We call it God’s Word. You’ve been hearing us read this to you from before you can remember and we will keep teaching you what it says until you are out on your own one day. Then you will read it yourself and teach others too. The Bible is powerful because it can help you see what you need to change in yourself and it can comfort you when you need encouragement. The Bible has blessings in it and it has commands and instructions. There are stories that you will hear over and over and over again and learn something new every single time you hear those stories. I want you to fall in love with the Bible and read it every day as you are able. We will help you now but before you know you will be reading it on your own just like A.J. does. The Bible is your greatest weapon on in every battle you will face, it is Truth.”
“So what do you think of this dress?”
“It’s pretty. But it is so heavy that I can’t really move.” She laughs and struggles to turn and take a step.
“There will be days that you struggle in your faith and it will feel heavy like this dress. You may feel that following Jesus keeps you from being able to do the things you want to do. But remember that you are at your best when you are with Jesus. You are at your very best and most beautiful when you are following him as his bride. We’ll take this dress off when we are done here but promise me that you will never turn away from Jesus. Promise me that you will do your best to stay with him and follow him and be his bride no matter what.” I reminded her of a wedding we recently went to. “Do you remember how the bride was looking down the aisle at her groom as he waited for her? She may have glanced at others as she walked but she knew where she was going and WHO she was walking towards and that is how we fix our eyes on Jesus. We just keep walking towards him like a bride walking down the aisle to her groom.”
“So what’s your favorite song right now? Can you sing a little bit of it while I take some pictures of you?” (I already knew the answer.)
“Oh My Soul! This is my favorite song ever…
Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name”
And she danced…. and I didn’t cry. Although I am now….
Isaiah 61:10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom in his wedding suit or a bride with her jewels.”
1 Corinthians 3:25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. 26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
I’m raising a Bride on a battlefield. She knows now that Jesus is her Savior, and that I and her daddy are not. She knows now that I am a bride just like her and that she can wear the “dress” just like me. She will soon follow Jesus in water baptism. But until then, her song testifies to the Truth in her heart.
“You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.”
~ Matt Redman “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
I am determined that she will never forget who she is. And I’m thankful that God has and will continue to help me remind her that she has 10,000 reasons to sing to Jesus.