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Good morning. It is Monday, January 10, 2022. Jeanette Stark here.

It was 34 years ago yesterday that I woke up next to Wendell on a Friday morning and said, “Let’s get married today.” He said, “You can’t get married in a day!” I said, “I bet we can!”

You see, just 6 days prior we had attended church together for the first time and planned on going back. I felt God impressing on my heart that living together was not His way; we should be married.

I called the courthouse and spoke to the clerk. I told her that Wendell and I had lived together for 3 years, that I had two little boys and that we had a little girl together. I told her that we had recently started attending church and that I did not want to “live in sin” one more day. She told me to write a letter to the judge and bring it to the courthouse. She said she would give it to the judge, and it would be up to him.

A couple of hours after delivering the letter to the courthouse I received a phone call. “The judge approved your request. Can you by here by 3pm?”

I called my Grandma Eva and asked her and Grandpa Rod to meet us at the courthouse to be our witnesses.

I put on the outfit I had bought the previous week for church, and we headed to town. Grams was waiting for us when we arrived. My papa came straight from work. He worked at Chapel of the Valley Funeral home, and he brought me flowers; from the funeral home! :)

There in the chambers were my grams, my papa, my oldest son Mike who was 8 years old. My son Jerimiah who was 5, my baby girl who was 8 ½ months old, Wendell and me.

Judge Lloyd O’Neil began to speak.

Later, throughout our life together, Wendell would tease me saying, “You promised to honor and obey”. I would reply “I did not hear that.” And we would both laugh.

And truth be told, I heard very little of what the judge said in the beginning. You see my grams tried holding my baby girl while we made it official. Carlie cried, hard, and kept leaning towards me with arms stretched out. I finally reached over and took her. She immediately quit crying and we were married, with our daughter on my hip.

As we walked out of the judge’s chambers and headed down the marble hall, my 5-year-old said, “I thought you were getting married”. I said “we were honey. That’s what we just did”. His innocent reply was “when are we going to dance?” In his mind, you had to have dancing if you were getting married. It was a precious remark.

Yesterday, I did a lot of reminiscing, and I chuckled when I thought about the many times Wendell would put his own interpretation on what happened that morning. He would tell people “All I know is I was sleeping, next thing I knew Jeanette jumped on my chest, slapped me a couple of times and told me: WE ARE GETTING MARRIED TODAY!!”

I miss his teasing. I miss his silly songs, sung off-key. I miss his help around the house, and he was a huge help! But I look forward with faith and anticipation to that day when Jesus comes to get us.

Jesus describes Himself as the bridegroom who is coming for His bride. In fact, one of the most straightforward truths of the Bible is that Jesus is the groom, and we are the bride. Such love, loyalty and dedication.

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy;” Hosea 2:19 NKJV

He is committed to us. He is the faithful husband to his faithful wife, the church.

Isaiah 54:5 “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.” NKJV

When Jesus asks, “Will you come to me?” and we reply “yes!”, something beautiful happens. He clothes us.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10 NKJV

Just like any wedding, there is planning and preparation. Part of that planning is the guest list. Is your name on the guest list? The beauty of this wedding is that every single person has received a wedding invitation, but not everyone will accept theirs. I pray that we reply with our RSVP. Tell the bridegroom: “Yes! I will come. I want to be there! I would not miss it for anything.”

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” Revelation 19:7-9 ESV

The Bible also describes the holy city as a beautiful bride.

Revelation 21:2 NKJV “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

There is so much imagery here and such beauty. We can try and imagine what the city looks like. The Bible gives a description.

“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations…The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” Revelation 21:10-21 NKJV

We have never seen anything like it! Sure, man has tried to build beautiful cities, but none compare to this city.

Jesus as the bridegroom, is the greatest love story ever told! Will you say, “I do”?

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