She was a beautiful child with a delightful smile and a life ahead full of possibilities. But her smiles ended when the abuse started. Fear filled her eyes and heart. Those supposed to love and care for her didn’t. Eventually she was rejected and abandoned on the lonely, dirty streets of the city. She was just a child. How could she survive? Then a “nice” man picked her up and took her to his house. She had a roof over her head, clothes to wear and food to eat. But he wasn’t really a nice man. Now, there was a different kind of abuse, and she was again “on the streets.”
Every day, many men noticed her, but never in a loving way. They just wanted to “use” her. But one day was different. Everything would change. A different man, a gentle man, a kind man saw her. Really saw her.
She looked up at him. He wasn’t looking at her the same way other men did. Leering, lustful, hungry. She expected scorn and rejection. But that is not what she received. His eyes were full of love and acceptance. She looked around. Who was he really looking at? Was someone standing behind her? No. He was looking at her! And he was calling her. But why?
You see, since the first time he had seen her, he had loved her. He didn’t approach her like the others, looking her over from head to toe, only thinking of what he could get. This was different. He was different.
She didn’t even know that men like that existed. How could he love her? Even if he did, it was impossible. She belonged to someone else.
This unknown, kind man was determined. He approached her owner and paid for her freedom. He bought her for Himself. To Him, she was worth any price. She was his now, and not just for an hour. But what exactly did that mean? Her former owner kept all the beautiful clothes she worked in, and gave her back what was hers – just rags – dirty rags.
She learned this kind man was a king, and He had everything, including many servants. Why did he want her? She was a slave girl, and had nothing. Was He going to use her like all the others?
He called her to himself. Hesitantly, she approached him, eyes down respectfully, not daring to look up. Gently, he lifted her chin and their eyes met. Such… such… something. He seemed to look right through her, but yet really see her. There was no disgust, no anger, no rebuke, no regret. Just … tenderness.
He spoke to her. Softly. Gently. Tenderly. She couldn’t believe her ears. He told her of his love for her … that he wanted to take care of her … he wanted her to be in his family … and that he wanted her to be his bride!
Was he was making fun of her? He loved her?!? Part of his family!? She couldn’t believe it. For as long as she could remember, she longed to be in a family … to be more than a slave girl. But now? After all she’d been through? After all she had done? Why would he want her when her own parents had rejected, abused, and abandoned her?
If all this were real, this would be better than a dream come true. Maybe it was just a dream and she’d wake up still a slave. Could the emptiness be filled; could the loneliness go away? Could someone really care for her? Maybe she could actually belong somewhere… not just to someone. But, how could she ever be His bride?!?!, Wouldn’t that make her …. a queen? She knew nothing about the ways of royalty! Nothing!
Smiling, he assured her that he would help her be ready. That was ridiculous … unbelievable. But she knew that living with Him, in any capacity, in His kingdom, was far better than where she had been. So… she chose to follow Him and to learn from Him.
They went to his palace. It was breathtaking. As they walked in, hand in hand, she felt like people were gawking at her, some even laughing at her. But there, she was bathed and given new clothes. She had a warm, safe place to sleep, and plenty to eat. She felt better … and smelled better … but she still didn’t really feel like she belonged. Every day she would meet with the king. They would talk and he would teach her the ways of the kingdom… how to walk … how to talk… how to live in his kingdom. He would remind her that the past … was past. But most of all, he would tell her of his love for her.
Sometimes others in his family helped to teach her more about how to live her new life. She was learning to care for others and that they, too, cared for her.
She was happier than she could ever remember, but still kept her distance … a respectful distance … from the king. Even when he would invite her to come closer … well, maybe she’d scoot an inch closer… but that was all. Whenever she met someone new, she’d introduce herself as “that dirty slave girl that the King has cleaned up.” Sometimes others reminded her of how dirty and smelly she had been … and of how much she still had to learn … and how often she did things wrong … or said things wrong … the way she would have done them before. She really didn’t need reminding. (It was explained to her that she wasn’t the only one learning to live and love in the Kingdom.) She was always aware of her unworthiness… every time she looked in a mirror … every time she opened her mouth … and every minute she spent with the king… even though he never brought up her past failings. Her King always treated her gently, spoke to her with love, and looked at her with such joy. In her heart, she still believed he saw her as dirty and a complete klutz.
The day finally came for her to become his bride. She looked beautiful, and she had learned a lot. She once was a slave, a play thing … but now she would be queen. It had taken a long time, with many ups and downs, but she had worked hard and the King had been infinitely patient and gentle. She had grown to love the king, and she knew he loved her. After the wedding, she gave herself willing to her king … her husband. But… not completely. Deep down … in her most secret place … she still felt like the little slave girl. How could she give that “slave girl” part to her wonderful husband? She still worked hard to be perfect, but, when she failed, she believed the king was disappointed in her and that he still saw her as the dirty, little slave girl from the street… just clean on the outside and wearing new clothes.
This broke the king’s heart. He saw his bride as holy and pure… completely clean … a new person altogether. She was no longer a “little slave girl” to him… not even a little part. She was his beloved … and he loved her … all of her. Someday she would understand.
Those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus … to be in His family … have been washed and given new clothes. We are learning to walk and talk in the way of the Kingdom. And we are dearly loved … completely … lavishly … extravagantly.
In the bible there are many passages that talk about Jesus being the Bridegroom, and the church … the believers … being His bride. Paul, in Ephesians 5, talks about how a husband and wife should treat each other, and then says he is really talking about Christ and His church.
29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
If a man and woman become one flesh, and this is a picture of Christ and His Church, we become “one flesh” with Jesus!
In Revelation 21:1-2, we read of the marriage supper of the Lamb.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Our King Jesus has loved us with an everlasting love … even before we knew or loved Him. I John 4:19 tells us:
We love because He first loved us.
He has cleansed us … completely … with His Precious Blood.
Therefore, he is able to save those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede completely for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
I believe Jesus’ heart breaks when His Church … His Bride … focuses on who we were, not on who we are in Him. We hold back, thinking He is mad at us… or in a bad mood … because of our failures. This keeps us from drawing close to Him … to giving ourselves completely to Him… from trusting Him. Our focus needs to change from who we were … to Him … and who He has made us to be.
King Jesus didn’t just take away our filthy rags. He didn’t just give us a bath and make us smell better. He made us a new creation… the old is dead … nailed to a cross … Jesus’ cross … with Him. We are completely new. There is no “dirty little slave girl” hidden deep inside. Nope.
And He wants us to be so in love with Him … because He is so in love with us!
How can it be possible
That You would choose me,
With all my faults and shortcomings?
But You did,
You rescued me from the pit of slavery.
You set my feet on solid ground, and
Crowned me with love and compassion,
And made me part of Your family.
I am so, so grateful.
I give myself to You…
All of me.