Things have been on somewhat of a hiatus here at the blog. I guess that’s what can happen when your daughter meets, dates, becomes engaged to, and marries someone in less than a year. Call it collateral damage. But it’s time to get back to it because life waits for no distracted writer.
Everything about Katherine’s wedding was beautiful, there’s so much I could (and want to) tell you. Most of it will have to wait because today we’re going to focus on The Clothes. Her dress, my dress, the suits, vests, and ties for my sons, dresses for Hope and Julia, and all the shoes. The wedding of one of your children ranks pretty high on the list of Life Events. Therefore, if at all possible, I wanted to avoid a repeat of our occasional Sunday morning wardrobe malfunction in which I hope a nice pair of dress shoes will distract everyone from noticing my son is wearing sweatpants to church. So, beginning sometime in the summer, I began planning what my family would wear to Michael and Katie’s wedding. Katherine decided to wear my wedding dress which made that part the easiest and most pain-free. Finding clothes for myself and five other children of various ages and sizes was the hard part.
It became something of a hobby of mine to sit down with a cup of coffee, flip open the laptop, and peruse the internet for wedding attire. It just seemed easier somehow than hauling the kids to a bunch of stores, but maybe it wasn’t. Over the course of four months, I ordered seven dresses, two pairs of shoes, and some dress pants. Several things were returned because they didn’t fit or didnt get here in time. But when the day of the wedding rolled around, we were all reasonably presentable, even if we didn’t quite manage the perfect color or fit on everything.
In the weeks since their November wedding, I’ve thought about the Great Clothing Saga many times, about all the effort and time I spent collecting outfits. Maybe it sounds like a lot of unnecessary fuss, but it was an important day to our family, and it really mattered to me that we dressed accordingly. In the end, all the planning was worth it. I had the younger boys’ clothes and shoes laid out and ready to go, right down to new black socks. My own dress needed only to be pulled off the hanger and put on. Katherine’s gown was beautiful and getting her ready was easy. We had plenty of time to spare, and Katie and I were able to have a period of quiet and calm before the ceremony, in which we shared a short devotion and prayer that blessed us both. Looking back, I’m grateful there was nothing to distract me from making these precious memories.
Katherine’s wedding has past, but there remains another, and even more important, Day on the horizon. For this one, I won’t just need a special outfit, I’ll need a perfect one. I’m talking about Judgment Day, when I will stand before the throne of God and give an account for my life (Romans 14:12). On this Day, eternity will lay before me and only a life of perfection will allow me to spend it in heaven. In this moment, everything will come down to what I wear. The fit must be perfect, the color a pristine white, the coverage complete. There can be no flaws, no blemishes, nothing less than absolute perfection.
It sounds terrifying, doesn’t it? When we’re talking about things like God’s definition of perfection, and time frames like eternity, we quickly realize that the stakes don’t get higher than this. No life event here on earth, however significant, can compare to this moment. This outfit? It’s THE outfit. It matters more than anything else I’ve ever worn. I can’t fake the fit, hide the stain, or settle for “good enough.”
This outfit isn’t something I can look to myself to find. Not even a little bit. God’s Word tells me that all my righteousness is like a filthy rag. (Isaiah 64:6). My best is a far cry from the perfect righteousness God requires of each one of us. And so, because of His great love for the sinner, our heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus to purchase a perfect garment of salvation for each one of us. Our robes of righteousness were bought and paid in full through Jesus’ death on the cross. This truth is the very heart of Christianity. That is, what we need the most and can never obtain on our own, has been freely given through Jesus. The prophet Isaiah words it beautifully in chapter 61 verse 10: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…”
So rest easy, be at peace. In Jesus, that most important Day is no longer something to fear. In Jesus, we are dressed in righteousness and ready for heaven.
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress.
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in that great Day. For who aught to my charge shall lay?Fully through these absolved I am. From sin and fear, from guilt and blame.
(Hymn 371:1-2, The Lutheran Hymnal)