I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be the bride of Christ. A lot. My recent work with young girls and women coming out of prostitution has been teaching me many things, reminding me of many things from seasons gone by.
I was reminded yesterday that in our local Arabic, Iris (as in our name) actually means wedding. Wedding Ministries. Not far from the truth. We are called to walk with Holy Spirit in preparing a radiant, mature Bride for her King. The end goal is indeed a wedding! All of eternity leans towards this culmination: a radiant, pure Bride from every tribe, every language, every tongue who is secure in His love, romanced by His gaze.
A few weeks ago I walked into a tin shack brothel. There were beautiful women young and old trapped in deception and fear, hiding behind painted smiles and thinly veiled facades. Few were there by choice. Lies led them there and chains kept them in their bondage. That which was most precious, was sold for less than a box of juice cost on the street.
Their gazes dejected, their hearts fearful, eyes averted to the ground in shame. It gave me such great joy to be able see their faces life as we gave value to their stories. To listen not with judgment or even a solution, but simply with love and compassion.
We were able to pay off the debts and redeem 4 out of their prison, offering a whole new life of freedom. Two of them chose to go back. The bondage they knew was safer than the freedom they didn’t.
How could this be? How could they choose so poorly? The effects of their decisions ricocheted through our staff. Many were shocked by their choices. But we are a Bride who is invited into the freedom found in the fire in His eyes and yet, sometimes we too choose lies instead of truth. We sometimes choose a known bondage to an unknown journey into freedom. Their choices to prostitute their destinies to another was simply more visible, not more real.
It has really got me thinking. Are there other lovers of my soul that I am running after? Am I looking for provision, for satisfaction, for identity, for safety apart from Him? The price He paid for my redemption, to pay off my debts, is far too great to let even one part of my heart chase anything but Him.
I really pray we will be Iris Ministries here: a ministry of Bridal preparation. That we will run into the darkness with Jesus to find His lost Bride and prepare Her to be His sheer reflection of beauty in the earth, to prepare Her for a radiant destiny on which angels long to gaze, to prepare Her to change the very atmospheres of nations with His Presence.
I am revisiting my studies and notes taken 10 years ago on Hosea, Song of Songs and Revelation when I ministered on the streets of India. The preparation of a pure and radiant Bride has long been a foundational theme in my heart. That the song of the Bride may come forth in its fullest resonance with heaven. I am praying for keys to see those locked in bondage, in brothels of religion and performance, seduced by other lovers set free to freely give all they are for love to their King.
In returning to this revelation of redemption, I too am coming home to truths never forgotten but for a season filed away. It is time for them to be released and walked in. It is time for them to bloom like roses in the desert sand.
The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the rose,
it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy…
They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God. (Isa 35:1-2)