"Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible--terrible in its determination to allow nothing blemished or unworthy to remain in the beloved."
~ Hannah Hurnard ~
Dan and I have been married for 34 years, but I can still remember the words his mother said to me when I met her for the very first time.
We left Bible College for Christmas break, but after a few days, Dan called and asked if I would like to visit his home. He drove 4 hours to my house and 4 hours back to take me to meet his parents. We had just started dating, but were head over heels "in like" with each other.
Because it was a long trip, I bunked overnight with his younger sister who immediately wanted to know if I was going to marry her brother. I replied that I liked him a lot and might marry him if and when he asked me.
Never confide in an 11 year old! She must have gone straight to her mother with the juicy news. When Mom got me alone, she looked me straight in the eyes and said, "We don't believe in divorce!"
Ouch! I wanted to run the entire 200 miles back to my house and forget I ever knew Dan at that point because I was certain his mother hated me. I just knew I would never be good enough for her son.
Many years later as we launched our own children into the adult world, I understood my mother-in-law's heart. Her marriage had gone through some very rough places and she loved her son enough to want to spare him from those rough spots. In her loving but determined way, she came across as seeking a "perfect" wife for him.
As I watched my children choose their mates, I experienced that same kind of love - I wanted the very best for my kids too. I wasn't at all sure their lives would turn out happy with the mates they chose, but thankfully, they have so far.
God's heart is like that as well - He has chosen the church to be a bride for His Son, Jesus. We are to be a helpmeet for Him and to bring forth spiritual children in His image. But He has high expectations for His Son's bride - nothing short of perfection and to put it bluntly, we'll never measure up.
Of course, He doesn't leave us floundering to achieve this perfection on our own - we are totally incapable of doing it by ourselves. So He molds us and works with us day by day, week after week, to make us into the women He wants us to be - the women He created us to be.
He loves us so much, He will never stop until the bride is exactly right, a perfect gift for His Son; a helpmeet that complements His needs to the fullest. Though it hurts to be pushed and pulled, poked and prodded into shape, I am thankful for His "terrible" and determined love for it is that love which will ultimately make us partners with Christ, at long last one with the One who loves us.
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