Reblog: And The Bride Wore……Scars?

Reblogged from Bread for the Bride, April 2012:

SCARS

Recently I did a Google image search on ‘bride of Christ’. The results were interesting. With a few thought-provoking exceptions, the majority of images portrayed a Western bride dressed in long white gown and veil, with flawless fair skinned complexion and a radiant smile. Sometimes she is shown holding a sword, or depicted from the back looking searchingly towards the skies, at times surrounded by angels. But almost invariably the Bride shown in these images could have stepped straight out of a Hollywood movie.

I’m not suggesting there’s anything inherently wrong with this kind of imagery but it does seem to demonstrate a rather limited, stereotypical idea about what the Bride of Christ should look like, especially among Western Christians. Is this really how we imagine her to be in the eyes of Christ?

The Bride I’ve glimpsed differs somewhat from this comforting “Hollywood” version. For one thing she carries significant scars on her body. Before someone runs to call the heresy police, yes I know she is unblemished, without wrinkle or spot, and you won’t get an argument form me on that point (Ephesians 5:27). However, these words in scripture refer to her character, not her physical beauty (Revelation 21:27).

This Bride I see coming up from the wilderness has not emerged from the pages of Vogue or Marie Claire. And it troubles me somewhat that so many Christians hold to this vague celebrity-like idea of her, even unconsciously.

The Bride I see is being forged and refined through seasons of character building in what is so often called ‘the wilderness’. The wilderness is not a geographical location. “The wilderness” is a spiritual description of seasons in our lives when we are led by God into emotional experiences of separation, loneliness, hardship and suffering.

The Bride I see is now beginning to emerge from her long wilderness experience bearing within her the ‘marks” of her Bridegroom (Gal. 6:17). This Bride has endured severe times of testing during which her faithfulness has been stretched to breaking point. She has been learning the ways of the Overcomer. In this process, she has been wounded, often deeply. As a result the scars, or signs, of her warfare and tribulations are visible upon her as witness to the principalities and powers that she is being moulded into the very image of her Lord. Well may they behold and tremble!

Please understand these scars I speak about are not open wounds. The Bridegroom, through His shed Blood, has provided for all such contingencies. These scars born by His Bride are signs of past wounds she has suffered, but which have had insufficient power to permanently disable her. She has refused to allow any root of bitterness to spring forth from such experiences and His grace has enabled her healing.

The Bride I see now wears such scars as badges of honour. She does not hide them, but neither does she exalt them. They simply are part of who she is and who she is becoming. She holds it as a deeply precious thing within her heart that she has been chosen to bear her scars as evidence of her faithful journey towards the Bridegroom, even as He also eternally wears His scars as evidence of His sacrificial love for her.

In the military and social spheres of our natural world we honour those who have come through great battles or performed heroic acts, with ceremonies. We publicly decorate them with medals. We hold them in respect. Why should it be any different for the Bride of Christ whose heroic overcoming advancement is being heralded by such a great cloud of Heavenly witnesses (Hebrews 12:1)?

Have you suffered such spiritual scarring in your ongoing quest for the Bridegroom? Do not be ashamed of scars that remain, for He isn’t. If the experiences that caused them are forging you as an eternal overcomer rather than a perpetual victim, these scars are not blemishes upon your soul. They are your badges of honour, so wear them well, but do not dwell on them.

Can you see her a little more clearly now, this Bride emerging from the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved? Is she not a lot like Him?

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers; spent
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned.
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole; can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?

Poem by Amy Carmichael

     © Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2012   Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included.     To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.



Categories: Life in Christ, The Bride of Christ, The Cross, Words of Grace and Truth

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17 replies

  1. So true to Scripture, history, reality, personal experience and Jesus. Thanks Cheryl. Quite superb meditation!

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  2. Reblogged this on Lillie-Put and commented:
    Such an important thought for the body of Christ to grab hold of!

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  3. Dear Cheryl, Do you sense this is what was behind the Bride of the Song’s expression that she is “black (i.e. blackened by the sun), but beautiful?” I thought of this with your beautiful post.

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  4. “Have you suffered such spiritual scarring in your ongoing quest for the Bridegroom? Do not be ashamed of scars that remain, for He isn’t. If the experiences that caused them are forging you as an eternal overcomer rather than a perpetual victim, these scars are not blemishes upon your soul. They are your badges of honour, so wear them well, but do not dwell on them.” Thank you for this timely paragraph. I am moving forward into the presence scars and all!

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  5. Cheryl,

    I wept as I read this post. My family has gone through many trials (thus far) – financial drought, losing a daughter to cancer (she got saved on the ER floor of MDAnderson!), another daughter has joined a “Christian cult” and has disowned her dad and me, my other children are struggling still with all of this BUT… I see beautiful scars in all of us – staying faithful to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Hard?!! You bet… But I wouldn’t change a thing because it makes me/us press into the Lord where we need to stay to finish the course…

    Thank you for your testimony and your faithfulness to hear and share what the Spirit is saying…

    Blessings,

    Pamela Matthews
    http://www.caringbridge.org/tx/dinahmatthews

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  6. This is very thought provoking and thanks for chalenging the Western mindset a little! Something I enjoy doing being a bi-cultural person myself. I have been privileged to ‘see’ the Bride as she represents different countries. Whilst there is no Greek nor Jew in heaven, I believe God has given different nations to creatively express his diverse character and that each nation will contribute that as their part ‘in the Bride’ if you get me?! Laos at one time was part of a prayer burden my hubby and I carried for SE Asia whilst living in Thailand and teaching Laotion monks English at one point. I ‘saw’ the Laotion Bride in prayer, young, lovely and beautifully adorned rising up to greet her Lover. Ver special – especially because as yet she is in persecuted and fledgling form with very few ethnically Lao peoples. As always a great post Cheryl, thanks! PS After a break I’m now blogging annonymously mostly – as Wondering Celt previously we chatted as All The Worlds A Stage or Walking Tomorrow, it’s Karen P but ssshush!)

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    • Karen, Thanks for your comments. Yes, I have seen His ethnically diverse Bride worshiping also, in Africa and Asia as well as my own country. The worship of those who are suffering persecution for Christ is especially humbling and beautiful. Glad to see you’re still around, even with a different name!
      CM

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  7. Reblogged this on spiritualabusesanctuary and commented:
    Scars? Yes, but not open wounds that fester and never heal. LORD Jesus, help me to fully die to self, and live for you, to be part of that Bride you desire. Thank you Cheryl for this beautiful inspiring writing and to Amy Carmichael, who wrote the lovely poem you posted on the blog. Her life of service, and example of what it means to die to self spurs me on to look for the poor and downtrodden of this world to minister to, as Jesus did. http://womenofchristianity.com/missionary-women/amy-carmichael/

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    • Thanks, once again, for the reblog Scarlett. Amy Carmichael is one of my all time favourite heroines of the faith. Thinking about her faithfulness in light of the things she went through never fails to inspire me. Thanks for the link also!
      CM

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