Written by Paige Phillips
I’ll never forget the day I found my wedding dress. My parents sweetly provided me with money to be able to purchase something I felt beautiful in for my special day, but I was eager to keep to a tight budget. I had been perusing a few online bridal shops and found a style I liked that was on sale. However, when I arrived at the dress shop, I was told by my consultant that finding a clearance dress was a take-it-or-leave-it deal. In other words, the dress would have to be my size, and I would take it with me that day rather than ordering it tailor-made to fit me. I looked around a bit, the consultant showing me dresses that were not anywhere near my price range, and then I turned to see my mom smiling at me and holding out a beautiful dress that I instantly recognized as the very one I had wanted. We glanced at the sale price of $200 and smiled at each other when we realized it was exactly my size. It was the first dress I tried on that day, and as soon as I put it on, I knew it was the dress I wanted to get married in. It had been tailor-made just for me.
That evening, as I curled up in my bed to have some time with the Lord, my reading guided me to Matthew 6:28-30, which says, “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” The reality set in instantly: God had clothed me! He had provided the beautiful gown that I would walk down the aisle in, and had allowed me to feel seen and cared for in a special moment.
In her book “Even Better Than Eden,” Nancy Guthrie points out the theme of God clothing His children that can be seen throughout the narrative arc of Scripture. It all begins with God making the first animal sacrifice to cover the naked shame of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were the first to feel the anxiety that nakedness brings, the urgency to clothe themselves with anything they could find. I’m sure those awkward fig leaves they quickly stitched together barely did the job. When God finds them, He addresses the scantiness of their garments and sheds the blood of an animal to cover them Himself. Jesus confronts the anxiety that we feel when we think we have to clothe ourselves. He says, “Why are you anxious about clothing?” In the literal sense, Jesus is, of course, addressing the very real human fear of not having what we need and reminding us that we don’t need to feel that fear when God is our Provider. But where did that need start? With Adam and Eve. Ever since that fateful day, we have been feeling the residual anxiety of needing to be covered–an anxiety we can’t remedy on our own.
Later, the priests would be clothed in holy garments that corresponded to the various elements of their temple service. God had some very specific instructions on how they were supposed to dress and detailed everything for them, from the color of their robes to the stones woven into their breast pieces. These special clothes set the priests apart from all the other Israelites as those consecrated for holy work. And yet, the priests themselves weren’t holy people. Despite their righteous clothes, they themselves could not achieve the status of perfection that they were covered in. They couldn’t transform themselves from the inside no matter how good they looked on the outside. At the highest point of this narrative arc came Jesus, our Great High Priest, Who was stripped of clothes as He walked the weary way to Calvary. The same Jesus Who gave up the robes of His heavenly abode to wear dusty sandals and modest apparel actually had to feel the shame of being completely exposed, the shame Adam and Eve scrambled to escape with their fig leaves, the shame none of us wants to feel.
Because Jesus bore the shame of nakedness for us, we are granted an incredible opportunity, as those clothed in sin and shame and wickedness, to be clothed in the righteousness only Jesus can offer. Guthrie writes,
“The Spirit empowers us to leave behind our rebellious determination to flaunt our shameful sinfulness, and our self-righteous determination to clothe ourselves in our own glory, righteousness, and beauty. We find ourselves increasingly wanting to be clothed glory, holiness, and beauty of Christ himself…When we put our focus on being clothed in this way, we become less invested and anxious about how we look in our physical clothes. We know that if the One who is clothing the lilies of the field is the same One clothing us, we can only begin to imagine how beautiful we’re becoming.”
The significance of reading Matthew 6:28-30 on the day I purchased my miraculous wedding dress was about so much more than just the dress itself: it was significant that God Himself is the One who clothed me, who continues to clothe me. I wore white on my wedding day because when I asked Jesus to save me and received His free gift of salvation, the purity and righteousness and perfection of Christ were imputed to me. The reality is, even though my fiance and I remained virgins until we were married, that didn’t mean I was a “pure” bride in and of myself. Left on my own, I would be nothing but impure and unrighteous. It is Christ’s purity that I wore when I walked down that aisle. He provided His sparkling white raiment. God clothed me in righteousness that was tailor-made.
I know that there are more special moments waiting for me, like that day at the bridal shop. The same God who clothed me like a white lily on my wedding day is at work transforming me and clothing me in His righteousness, making me more and more beautiful by the work His Spirit does in me. He wants to do the same work for all of us. The same God who gives the flowers their beautiful clothes is committed to bringing out the beauty He has placed on us as His children. Let us desire to see that beauty flourish, so that, in the words of Nancy Guthrie, “others will look at our lives and ask where we got our outfit because they want to become as beautiful as we’re becoming.”
Guthrie, Nancy. Even Better Than Eden: Nine Ways the Bible’s Story Changes Everything about Your Story. Crossway, 2018.