I remember when TJ proposed to me. And when he did it again, on a couple of our wedding anniversaries. I remember where we were, what we were doing, and how it was like.
Proposals are as nervously harrowing for the guys are they are sweetly memorable for the gals. We see them celebrated in jubilant posts of “She said YES!!!” on social media, reported sensationally on news media when they are done publicly, and shared excitedly with friends over coffee.
No matter how long you’ve been married, the moment of the proposal and its acceptance will always hold a special significance in your heart. It is one of the most gratifying moments in a man’s life, and also one of the most important life decisions a woman makes.
Because it means surrendering her life and happiness permanently upon the man she marries, and a union of body and soul that can never be reversed, regardless of what happens to the relationship.
I wish to be careful to make it clear that I’m using this illustration analogically with a specific intention to explain a specific point, and not to refer to the marital situations of individuals at large.
When a woman says “yes” to a man’s proposal, she is essentially agreeing to leave her life of self-reliance and independence to enter into a life of reliance and dependence upon him, whom she will also be submitting to as the head of her household.
It doesn’t matter how smart, talented, or fully capable she is. It makes no difference how much she has in terms of assets or earning power in relation to him, or vice versa. When they become one in marriage, everything between them becomes as one – be it decisions, finances, problems, successes, or failures.
What he owns becomes what she owns. Her problems and challenges become his problems. His successes are her successes, and her failures his failures. The same goes the other way round.
And his decisions become her decisions. Every woman, upon becoming a wife, no longer decides everything for herself, but will naturally start involving her husband in decisions big and small, even looking to him for answers, decisions, and direction for the family.
Ultimately, the acceptance of the proposal signifies a giving up of her self. Which is why it can sometimes be such a difficult decision to make.
Of course, most times it is love that compels the woman to say “yes”. A woman will assuredly say “yes” to a man whom she knows undoubtedly loves her and will cherish and provide for her as long as they live.
The picture of marriage, from acceptance of the proposal to becoming one, is none other than the picture of Jesus and the church – which refers not to a building, but rather the believers in Christ, both men and women.
God gave us marriage to help us understand the relationship He intended between His Son Jesus and the redeemed people making up the church, given to Jesus as His bride. The church is symbolised and painted as the bride of Christ in numerous places in the Bible (such as Romans 7, 2 Corinthians 11, Ephesians 5), and Jesus is depicted as the heavenly husband to every Christian (both man and woman).
Why is this important and what does it mean?
For one, it explains why God can’t – and doesn’t – just put everybody in the world under the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and automatically save all of us, out of His goodness and “grace”.
A true gentleman who truly loves the woman will never force his way with the woman he loves, but will woo her and pursue her with his love until she accepts his proposal. God respects the free choice that He has given man, and He will never force His salvation and blessings on man unless man is willing to accept it.
Christians are never “born” Christians. A pastor’s kid has to accept Jesus for themselves just as any other person has to, in order to be born again as a Christian. Judas, who we discussed recently, is regarded by many as being from the tribe of Judah, the same tribe that Jesus came forth from. However, having the distinction of being from the same tribe as Jesus didn’t get Judas saved, just as coming from a prestigious Christian family won’t save anyone.
We must personally accept what Jesus offers us to become His. But just as the most intimate act of marriage is irreversible, the moment we say yes to Jesus and He comes to dwell in us, we become His forever.
For another, just as the acceptance of the marriage proposal requires the woman to give up her reliance and dependence on herself, so thus does the acceptance of Christ by a person into his or her life.
It takes a person to recognise that they don’t know it all and they can’t do everything themselves in order for them to truly accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour over their life. It means acknowledging that there’s Someone who knows better than them, who is wiser, sees further, and whose ways are higher.
It means submitting themselves and everything in their life into the leadership and lordship of Jesus, their Husband and Maker. It means relying on Him more and more for everything, and depending on themselves and their own ideas, efforts, and connections less and less.
A man can only provide for and be intimate with his wife as much as she allows him to and opens herself to him. The same goes for every Christian in their relationship with Jesus.
That can be a scary thought, and some mistakenly imagine this to mean surrendering and sacrificing their life to completely serving Jesus as a frightening overlord.
Except that this proposal is different.
You need to realise that the One making this proposal is one who loved you so much that He gave everything up for you – His position and the comfort of His home, His holiness, the love of His Father, His health and beauty, and His very life – even before you took the slightest notice of Him or even knew anything about Him.
The One making this proposal is one who never takes His eyes off you, who never stops pursuing you and drawing you in again and again with His relentless love, no matter how many times you turn away from Him.
The One making this proposal is He who never stops loving you, who yearns to do everything in His power to provide and care for you.
When you say yes to Him, His position and possessions become yours, and all that is yours become His.
All your troubles, worries, and issues – be it physical, mental, or emotional – become His to deal with. Because He has no lack, fears, or problems of His own, there are no burdens of His for you to carry.
In Him only dwells over-abounding supply, overflowing life and health, and assured success and victory. Which become yours once you are His.
Because He lives after the power of an endless life and He gives you everlasting life, His love, protection, and blessings upon you are assured to you forever.
Because He is all-knowing, always in control, and holds the ultimate victory, you can be sure that He will guide and lead you on an ever-brighter and upward path.
And the more you let go of your self unto Him, the more He can work for you and in you. The more you leave your self-dependence to rely on Him utterly, the better He can love you.
He is Jesus, the One who is ever extending His hand of love to you. He is the perfect and total Husband you can ever assuredly rely on.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.