WHEN RUTHIE AND I WERE DATING, I was pastoring a church in central Ohio. Ruthie was working in nursing administration in a large hospital. 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. Sometimes a friend would invite us both to their house for a meal.
Because we both had early morning duties, we would always 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 that time, 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 half a century later, we decided to sell our second car. Not only was it an expense but it made it convenient for us to do a lot of things separately. I could run errands in one direction and she in another. With one car, we run our errands together. Now I understand there are seasons in every family’s journey where this is not a practical idea, but for us it was. Going together takes twice as long and it’s twice as much fun. Love is like that.
MOTIVATED BY LOVE
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 for my quiet time with God. We’ve got jobs and kids and deadlines and chores and more. I’m just really busy.” But love makes a way. Love measures priorities. Love sets boundaries. Love drives us to keep in touch.
Think about how this mindset of love reshapes our prayer vocabulary. Who of us hasn’t said something like this: “Wow, I pray through my needs and wants, and before you know it, I’m out of things to pray about.” But what if our driving motive is to get acquainted with our 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 so easily fall from our lips. Praying isn’t really about getting things from God; it’s about getting better acquainted. Love is like that.