(From Josh’s Perspective)
I like symbolism. The Bible is riddled with symbolism that one can only understand if looking for the symbolism. All of the Jewish feasts were made to help those participating remember what the Lord brought them through (and will bring them through in the future). The Passover feast had always stood out to me, mainly because it’s one of the few feasts the Bible gives specific details of Jesus celebrating. It’s as if God wanted to hallmark certain aspects of this feast so that everyone who knew the law would have no excuse as to not knowing who the Messiah is.
During the Passover, Jesus took the bread in His hand and says, “This is my Body”. After that, he takes the cup and says, “This is my Blood”. When I was studying Jewish tradition, a man seeking to get married would take bread and wine to his soon-to-be Bride, and they would partake of that together. After the man took a drink of the wine, he offered it to his soon-to-be Bride, and if she drank from the cup, it was her “Yes” answer to his proposal. It’s an extremely prophetic image to behold during the Last Supper – Jesus is essentially proposing to his disciples, and they are responding with a “Yes”. I always liked this imagery, so I decided to incorporate it in our engagement.
During my meeting with Brooke’s father earlier on, we had sort of discussed the main points I wanted to accomplish during the engagement. I wanted him to go around the table and bless each one of his children on different nights with something that meant a lot to each of them individually.
As it turned out, I was invited to go up to Estes Park with the Berberich family the day before I had planned out the engagement. Brooke had no clue as to what was going to happen the following day.
I had searched for a communion chalice for quite some time while planning this, and only just found one a couple hours before heading down to Castle Rock. Who says God isn’t in the details? I had it inscribed with one of our favorite verses: “That in all things He might have the preeminence”.
In the nights prior to our engagement, around the dinner table Tony blessed and prayed for each of Brooke’s brothers and sisters. On the night of July 16th it was Brooke’s turn.
At this point, I had a job that I worked at from 8am to 5pm, and the dinner they had was around 6pm. Windsor is a good 1.5 hours away (especially in 5:00 traffic in Denver) from Castle Rock where Brooke lived. The timing was just right so that Brooke wouldn’t be expecting me at all. The day wasn’t on a weekend, so I wouldn’t have planned to go down to Castle Rock at all.
One of the biggest things I was worried about in the planning for the engagement was the fact that it was a surprise – I wanted to model after Christ, who when He comes for His Bride, it will be a surprise to her as well. . As I was driving down to Castle Rock my heart was pounding, and thoughts of whether or not the surprise was ruined flooded my mind. “What if someone slipped? What if Brooke knows I was going to propose to her today?” I’m not usually someone who is extremely nervous about something I will be doing or where I will be going, however this engagement surprise had me a little on edge, which only added to the emotion of when the moment finally arrived.
Remember what I said way back in the first blog post about God being an artist and us being His canvases? God was speaking this very thing to me on my drive to Castle Rock. As God was painting this beautiful picture right before my eyes, a thought hit me. He delights in giving good gifts to His children. He delights in taking blank canvases submitted to the King and painting a picture that uniquely displays His handiwork in every aspect. From each brushstroke, to the colors chosen, to even the time in which He decides to paint – it all displays a unique picture of His Glory in a way that nothing else can. Just because He can. I got to see this first-hand in the planning for this engagement. Even if Brooke had found out that I was going to propose that day, it would have still been just another brushstroke in His masterpiece.
After they were finished eating dinner, and after Brooke was blessed and prayed for, Tony went to go get “her gift”. I was hiding in the garage. As he went to open the garage door, I heard Brooke’s sister Bridgette say something along the lines of “I’ll bet you her gift is Josh.” Only Tony, Gail and I knew what was happening that night, Bridgette was making a random guess and I was kind of shocked that she guessed right! She came running down the hall towards the garage as I stepped in the house. “Josh! See, I knew it!” I tried to hush her so that I could preserve some of the surprise. As I stepped around the corner, Brooke was a bit shocked. Her family left the room, and I took her to the table.
I don’t exactly remember what I said during that point. I had rehearsed it so many times in my head, but in the moment nothing came to me. I took the cup in my hands and took a drink of the juice. I asked Brooke, “Will you marry me?” as I passed the cup to her. “Yes!” was her answer as she drank. After that I prayed over our lives together – that we would be a shining example of what Christ does with two people wholly focused on Him. After that I told her for the very first time, “I love you.” Oh, the joy that washed over me after saying those words. I was saying them to the one with whom I would spend the rest of my life with – and I meant them with every fiber of my being. The moment couldn’t have been any better. The Lord was with us as we took this step of faith, knowing that He would lead us in His path.
Brooke wore a ring on her ring finger that was given to her by her parents as a purity ring. As a symbol of her passing from her Father’s headship to mine, I had asked that Tony would remove the purity ring and I slip the engagement ring on her finger.
Afterwards, I clearly remember Brooke was still in shock. So much so that she wouldn’t even finish her dessert pie. I popped open my computer and Skyped my family with Brooke to tell them all about what had happened. They were in on it from the beginning of planning, but to see it come to fruition brought my mom to tears.
I’ll never forget what happened that day – the Lord brought us close together, and began preparing us for marriage. One of the great pieces of advice we were told during our engagement was that we shouldn’t just prepare for a wedding that lasts a few hours, we should prepare for a marriage that lasts a lifetime.
God had been preparing our hearts for marriage in the time that we were courting, but even more so in these three months before our wedding, we saw God prepare us for what He would pour down on us during our wedding ceremony.
Oh what a wonderful day that was.
(From Brooke’s Perspective)
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
July 16th, 2012 began like any normal day. The day before (the 15th) my family and I drove up to Estes Park, Josh joined us. We all walked up and down the main street and even got old-fashioned pictures taken. (seen below)
My plan for the 16th didn’t include too much. My goal for the day was to go through my entire room and de-clutter and organize. I had been working all day, every now and then I would pause to send a text to Josh, or venture downstairs to grab a bite to eat, or see what everyone else was doing down stairs… as of late my parents had been having an evening “dedicated” to each of us in the family where they would make our favorite meal, pray over us, and pour encouragement into us, and bless us with a little gift. That evening it was my night. I came down stairs, whips of hair going in all directions, and a little tired from my days work. My mom had prepared my favorite meal and a pie…mmmm pies. 🙂 We all chose to save the pie for later on in the evening, so after we all sat down in the living room my dad and mom began sharing scriptures that the Lord had placed on their hearts for me. After my families words of encouragement my dad eluded to the fact that my gift was in the garage. He then proceeded to go retrieve it. Bridgette jokingly giggled, not serious in the least, “Brooke’s gift is Josh. Josh is in the garage.” I thought that was utterly unreasonable since I had been talking to Josh that day and he had told me he had an important meeting that evening and yet my heart did a little flutter and flip. Bridgette, who couldn’t wait to see what my gift really was ran to the hall that led to the garage. Then she exclaimed, “JOSH!?” Now, I honestly thought she was teasing, carrying on her previous statement, then I saw the smile on my mom’s face, the confusion in Bridgette’s, and I heard a loud “shhhhhhh” from the hallway and then I began to doubt my certainty. I calmly (outwardly) walked to the intersection of the living room and hallway and there he was. Standing there, tall and handsome, a smile lighting up he face, eyes twinkling, and maybe a little hint of “did I surprise her?” in his eyes too. Oh I was surprised all right. I stood there, quite unable to move. The reality of the moment sinking in as the clock ticked. My parent’s began gathering up my siblings, shepherding them out to the front porch. The dreamy haze of “will I know when the moment came?” had finally come. I stood there, like one in a dream, not knowing what to do, no one had proposed to me before. Josh gently said, “ Would you like to come sit at the table?” I nodded, heart pounding, the realization rolling through my mind, “it is happening, this is real, and it is happening to me!” We sat down, Josh at the head, I at his side. . . and then it all happened. There in front of us sat a silver challis with the words of Colossians 1:18 engraved upon it. “That in ALL this HE might have the preeminence.” Part of what is done during a Hebrew engagement is having communion together. It signifies the contract of marriage. It was a seal to our vows of a forever covenant between the betrothed.
In words that seem a blur to me Josh spilled forth what the Lord had intricately placed in his heart. Josh chose me. He desires to grow old with me. He is asking me to become his bride, his love, and his wife. Oh the beauty of it all. This can’t be real! With the covenant cup in hand filled with the portrayal of our Savior’s sacrifice, life, and love Josh asked me to be his wife. He asked me to marry him! He then took a sip of the grape juice, signifying poured out wine, lives forever in covenant with our Lord and in covenant together, poured out at the very feet of Christ. Then the cup was passed into my hands. I knew that taking a sip would be yes enough but before I drank I said, “Yes!” and then to seal my vow before my Father in Heaven and my soon-to-be groom I took the covenant “wine”. I didn’t cry, I was so happy; tears of joy couldn’t even escape. Josh led us in a prayer of thanksgiving and rejoicing hand in hand, heart to heart. Words cannot really express this moment in time! Time to go get my family who have been anxiously waiting on the front porch… before we headed to the door Josh hugged me with strength and tenderness…and love. Leaning down, he whispered in my ear, that single word which I longed to hear, “I Love You Brooke” oh what beautiful words to hear spoken for the very first time. Oh the depth of LOVE…the greatest of these. I whispered back, meaning it with every ounce within me, “I LOVE you Josh” …it was worth saving that word for that moment. Not flinging it about, carelessly saying it, but purposefully saving it.
Our Messiah’s Betrothal to us, His Bride:
One of the last things that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ did before His Ultimate Sacrifice of love for us was to, betroth us to Himself. In Mark 14 starting in verse 23-25 it shares the words of Jesus,
“23And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the (new) covenant (other versions say, New Testament), which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
There are two beautiful pictures illustrated in this passage. One is Christ’s blood is a covenant, a binding contract, to us that if we allow Christ’s perfect righteousness to cleanse us of ALL ungodliness, if we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts that HE is Lord then we will be grafted into Him. Christ in us the hope of glory! Second, you have to understand, Jesus disciples are of the Jewish lineage, they understand the traditions and customs of their people. The moment Christ “took up the cup…and offered it to them.” They knew that He as their Bridegroom was entering into a covenant betrothal with the Church, His Bride. Just read Hosea 2:19-20 it talks about us being betrothed to Him forever. Unbelievably beautiful!
In verse 25 of Mark 14 Jesus shares with us that He will not partake of the marriage cup until the wedding feast, the new covenant. When is the wedding feast? It is the day that the Groom comes for His bride!
We will be His Bride when He triumphantly comes back to us on a white horse. (Ladies, for those of you who desire your prince to sweep you off your feet as he is victoriously riding by on his white steed, look no longer! Jesus Christ, whose name is Faithful and True, who is also called The Word of God, He has come to woo you, to sweep you off of your feet and even an insignificant, little girl dream such as a prince on a white horse will be fulfilled in the most magnificent and glorious way! Read Revelation 19! O see the grandness of our Groom! Who can compare!? Just think, we are betrothed to HIM! Can you grasp that!?
Revelation 19:7-9 declares, “7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife (his bride) hath made herself ready.8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.9 And he saith unto me, “Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.””
Jesus was setting the stage for us long before our betrothal to Him. When He said in John 14:1-3, “I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” One of the duties of a bridegroom during the betrothal time was to prepare a place for his bride. Not only did Jesus say he was preparing us a place for us…if that isn’t enough evidence that we are His Bride, He adds, “and I will take you to myself.”
May I add here, it boggles my mind that He gives us the honor of choosing us to be so intimately joined to Him. Why a Bride? Why not a servant? Why not the lowest of low ranks? After all, He gave His life so mine may be saved. (The most beautiful Love) When everything is said and done, May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering! I would be a servant prostrate at His feet for a lifetime at it would be worth it. And yet, yes, we are His bondservants, but it doesn’t stop there, we are adopted into His royalty; children grafted into His lineage. But it gets deeper, we become His Bride, the ultimate honor, the Bride of the Most High! Wow! My words and descriptions are so insignificant.
Another tradition is the bridal gift that the groom gives to his betrothed (Matan ntm) or another way of calling it a pledge of his love. The pledge or earnest of our Heavenly Bridegroom is the Holy Spirit. (Eph. 1:13-14) a promise of love and that He will return for us. Interestingly this pledge was given at Shavuot (Pentecost) – Acts 2:1-4. Could He also be telling us not only of His love but just how He is fulfilling this pledge (Jer 31:33)?
My story continues, the story of the day Josh proposed to me. Josh had a pledge of his love for me hidden away in his pocket. I was in too much of a haze to completely notice. Once my whole family came into the house with huge smiles on their faces, just beaming at us, my Dad came up to me and caught my left hand. On my ring finger was the purity ring my parents had given me. My Dad then began explaining, “Brooke, your Mother and I gave you this purity ring to signify your saving your heart for one, for this very moment…you get to exchange it.” as he was speaking he began to twist the ring off my finger passing it to Josh. As Josh slipped my ring, the earnest of our wedding celebration, he explained to me the meaning of my beautiful engagement band. It has three diamonds held on the ring by twelve pillars. The number three symbolizes divine perfection and new beginnings, as well as symbolizing the Trinity. The number twelve symbolizes governmental perfection. And if you look at the ring from the side the shape of a heart is made from the middle diamond. (The meaning of the wedding band will come later.)
The moments that compiled in that evening shall be sacred in my memory forever.
Needless to say that evening before drifting off to sleep I…sat by my open window in a great sheen of moonshine and murmured a prayer of gratitude and aspirations that came straight from my heart. There was in it thankfulness for the past and reverent petition for the future; and when I slept on my white pillow my dreams were as fair and bright and beautiful as maidenhood might desire…
…for now… : )
Felicia Wondolowski, Lauren Robertson, & Myself, Brooke.