By Marie MacPherson
Their hands grip tightly. They gaze into each others’ eyes. They faithfully promise, “I do.” It is a match made in heaven—that almost wasn’t made at all.
Several months earlier, the young man and woman were in love. They wanted to spend their lives together. Convinced that this was God’s plan for their lives, they became engaged. As the plans for the wedding developed, for one sinful reason or another, the woman became nervous. Was he really “the one”? Did she really want to “settle down”? Had she made the “right” choice? Doubts overwhelmed her, and rather than place them in God’s hands, she worried and stewed. She no longer knew how to proceed. And then, she made the wrong choice.
Still engaged, but her heart confused, she found herself pregnant, by a man not her fiancé.
Still engaged, but her heart confused, she found herself pregnant, by a man not her fiancé. By a man who had no love for her. By a man who would show no commitment to her newly conceived child. Terrified and ashamed, she tried to distance herself from all those who loved her—her family, her friends, and her fiancé. She quickly broke off the engagement and ran away.
Those who held her dear, especially her husband-to-be, searched for her to no avail. She did not want to be found. She loathed herself and dreaded the wrath of the world, and of God.
He searched until he found her. He pledged that he had not given up his engagement promise, even if she had. He still loved her, regardless of her faults.
After several months of anguish for both parties, word of her situation got back to her family and friends. All expected that the wedding would be called off. But this wouldn’t be the case. The groom went after her. He searched until he found her. He pledged that he had not given up his engagement promise, even if she had. He still loved her, regardless of her faults. He would still marry her, and he would love her child as his own. Her guilt was forever in the past, with a glorious future awaiting her, though she deserved none of it.
As they reach around her growing belly to put rings on one another’s fingers, Christ-like love abounds. The trial this couple has already endured was certainly difficult, but it is also certain not to be the last. Yet, Christ’s example of His undying love for His church shines as an example for them—as for all spouses—to follow.
This story is true. I was honored to be a guest at that wedding.
Amazingly, the One against whom we have sinned longs to forgive us: ‘Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.’
Moreover, this true account also is an allegory for a greater truth. You and I, the Church, have strayed from God and prostituted ourselves to the sins of this world. “You have played the harlot with many lovers; yet return to Me” (Jeremiah 3:1). Amazingly, the One against whom we have sinned longs to forgive us. “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions. ... Return to Me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22). No sin is too great for God to forgive. Your Savior Jesus welcomes you back to His arms, as a bride whom He Himself has made holy and pure (Ephesians 5:26–27). Because His love knows no limits, He has returned you to Himself.
Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).