In the darkness of night, a twenty-something woman steps out of her plush towel sheet and dips her toe into a descending stairway leading to a secluded, spa-like
pool. It is the night before her wedding, and she is bathing in a special body of water. This mikvah, as the traditional Jew calls it, isn’t for just the traditionals any longer. More and more modern women are turning to the ritualistic cleansing bath to prepare them for their wedding day.
Down she dips herself. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven times. Each dunk cleanses her of her old life and prepares her for a new one as the wife of one man.
The pool is filled with what is called “living water.” That is, it is water that has been in existence since the beginning of time. Usually, it is filled with rainwater that has recycled again and again through the earth’s atmosphere. In this way it is not unlike the water in ancient mikvahs that existed during the time of Christ. Back then the bride-to-be was making one of many trips to be re-cleansed for her marriage bed. She would return after each period to be cleansed before she could have sex with her husband. What a burdensome task!
But Jesus said something about “living water” when He was here on earth, didn’t He? He told a sinful woman at a well of water, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). HE is the living water. Maybe that’s one reason why the apostle Paul took the cumbersome burden of a woman’s ritualistic bathing and replaced it with something different. In Ephesians 5 he charges husbands to make their brides holy “by cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” (v. 26). As I wrote in my book What Are You Waiting For:
The apostle Paul’s language here is pure, 100 percent Middle Eastern, circa first century A.D. … The spiritual parallel is that Christ has washed His bride, the church, through His death. But His once-for-all sacrifice means the old ways of “making things clean” are gone. So Paul introduces a new way to cleanse a bride. Now she will be cleansed ceremonially by one thing and one thing alone. Not water, but the Word … and not before marriage, but as a continual action after marriage.*
Now the husband is charged with the task of cleansing her with the words of Jesus. It is not the words of the husband but the words of our Savior that should be drenching a woman’s spirit and cleansing her!
Cleansing her of what? I write about this at length in Get Lost, but we women are certainly prone to hang onto words that wound. For example, I remember clearly the words of a student leader who crushed my heart when I was a freshman in college. Having repeatedly asked to meet with a hall mate privately as opposed to under the continual observance of my RA, this overstressed young woman eventually blurted out, “Dannah Gresh, your heart is black!” How I ruminated on those words through the years, letting them wound me even further.
Bob Gresh has helped me to heal. There’s nothing quite like waking up to someone who has chosen you. Each morning, I roll over in bed to find that someone found my heart beautiful not black. But mine has been a man mindful that he alone cannot handle all of the aches in my heart. I fell in love with him most profoundly as a teacher of a college Sunday school class. There I could see that he was able to handle the Word of God. That he knew it. And loved it.
On occasion, I would find a note in my mailbox from my favorite Sunday school teacher explaining how the verse he taught on spoke of my gifts, my calling, my beauty, or my purpose. Few things have cleansed my heart as completely as those notes … and others like it that have come through the years.
A guy can’t grow into a man who will bring the Word of God to your heart unless he is putting it in his heart now. If you’re going to consider a guy worthy of a date, be sure that he knows and loves the Word of God. He doesn’t need to be a Sunday school teacher or trying to go to seminary. He just needs to treasure the Word of God to be a worthy consideration for a date!
*Dannah Gresh, What Are You Waiting For: The One Thing No One Ever Tells You About Sex (Waterbrook Mulnomah, Colorado Springs, 2011), page 135.