When Ruthie and I were dating I was pastoring a church in central Ohio; Ruthie was working in Nursing Administration in a large hospital nearby. It was a time of high intensity for both of us. But we worked hard at staying in touch. As often as I could I’d stop by the hospital cafeteria and we’d have lunch together. Sometimes I’d stop by her place for supper or she’d stop by mine. Or sometimes a friend would invite us both.
With early morning duties, we’d head for home before it got late. But inevitably, we’d hardly be inside the door before one of us would phone the other. We might talk for an hour. She was busy; I was busy. I was a single dad with two teenage boys. Yet we made time to stay connected. Looking back on it I can understand the reason: We were very much in love. We took every opportunity to talk. We wanted to get better acquainted. I wanted to know her, she wanted to know me. We both wanted to know us. Love is like that.
Not long ago, nearly a half century later, we made the decision to sell our second car. Not only was it an expense, it made it convenient for us to do a lot of things separately. I could run errands in one direction and she in another. Now I understand there are seasons in every family’s journey where this is not a practical idea, but for us it was. So with one car we run our errands together. It takes twice as long and it’s twice as much fun. Love is like that.
Our new strategy has also given me a more measured response to the inquiry I sometimes hear, “Pastor, it just seems like I don’t have as much time as I would like to spend in my quiet time. We’ve got jobs and kids and deadlines and chores and…I’m just really busy.” But love makes a way. Love measures priorities. Love sets boundaries. Love is driven to keep in touch.
Please know that I’m not attempting to shame anyone here. I only want to give you permission to be honest about priorities.
Think about how this re-shapes our prayer vocabulary. Who of us hasn’t said something like, “Wow, I pray through my needs and wants and before you know it I’m out of things to pray about.” But what about if our driving motive is to get acquainted with this amazing God? To ask Him questions and wait for His answers. Have you ever prayed, “God, what’s on Your heart tonight? What do You want me to pray about? Who has a special target on their back that You want me to pray for? What is there in me that You want to clean up, that maybe I don’t even see yet?” We’re going to need a bit more time than just the generic “bless the missionaries and colporteurs in the foreign fields” prayers that are so easy. Praying isn’t really about getting things from God, it’s about getting better acquainted. Love is like that.
By Don Jacobsen