Tonight. Just me and God. We laughed. We cried. We shared a coke and a small waffle fry at Chick-Fil-A.
I wish I could tell you that we had this date night planned for days or weeks in advance. But the sad truth is: It. Just. Happened.
And to continuing my heritage of honesty, I’ll even tell you that I wasn’t happy about it. In fact, I was more along the lines of unhappy.
The sheets we registered for were top of the line. 400 thread count. Beautiful Egyptian cotton. Less than three years old. And I won’t tell you how much they cost, but I’ll tell you this much: they were a penny short of $130. I would never have purchased these for myself, but I have the best family in the world and they bought it for me. And through two bed transitions, they have brought wonderful sleep. They have managed to drape over a “large full/small queen” (whatever that is) and most recently, have snuggly covered a California King. We have been pleased.
That is, until yesterday. When I found an enormous tear in the fitted sheet. I almost cried. After a small panic episode, I texted my friend who used to work at the factory that popped out these pretties. (I won’t tell you where they came from, but when she worked there, she always hash tagged #bbbprobs.) She encouraged me to take them back to the store.
I assumed I could sleep on them at least another week until I would be heading that way, but this morning the hole was twice its size. So, all day, I have been planning a trip to a town yonder to beg these wonderful triple B’s to be so gracious as to swap them out with only a gift receipt and an expired bridal registry print-out.
I knew better than to ask my husband to skip basketball with the guys for sheets (who needs to sleep when you can come home with a black eye?). My sister-in-law is very prego and was not up for an hour and a half round trip ride. Another friend was having a cook out with her in-laws. Another had a graduation party. One was in a play. A dozen had kids and they didn’t have time in order to find childcare. Two friends didn’t text back.
I heard the Whisper. But I kept pushing it out of my head. Ministry is my first priority. I need to find someone to encourage.
In the meantime, I pouted and pity-partied and pleaded with my husband to remind me who my real friends were. “They’re just as busy as you.” He made perfect sense. But that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that I wasn’t valuable. No one liked me. Everyone wanted me when I could help them, but no one just wanted to be. my. friend.
And the sick thing is that hearing those words spoken out loud would have strangely comforted me. Because my mind has been telling me that since childhood, and it’s frankly exhausting to spend so much energy trying to prove my mind wrong. Some days, my soul begs me to give in. Over the years, it’s deception has sunk into my heart and I have come to believe it.
But the Whisper didn’t let up. It kept getting louder. And still, pulling out of the driveway, I was going through my mental list of people that I could call to hang out with me at the last minute. The fact that I was bored and didn’t have something planned was so unusual that doing something spontaneous was VERY out of my comfort zone. I didn’t like it at all.
I finally spoke to the Whisper and said, “Okay, God. Just you and me.” I exhaled slowly. It was an awkward silence like the initial three minutes of a first date. Not because we hadn’t talked recently, and not because we didn’t like each other, but because we both knew that He was my last choice. I spent all day trying to find a companion and He was there all along. And yet, that didn’t seem as “worthy” as being with a human would be.
And herein lies one of the greatest deceptions of the enemy. Ministering involves other humans. But God created man because HE wanted communion with a person. The God of the Universe… wants us. Ministering to God is perhaps one of the most ignored forms of worship, because we have believed the lie that we are ONLY AS VALUABLE AS PEOPLE SAY WE ARE.
What if we believed that we were what God said we were?
“His treasured possession.” (Malachi 3:17)
“Fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
“I have engraved you on the palms of My Hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)
“He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)
And so, I sang. Loud. And as I opened the sunroof and my heart, He opened my eyes to see mountain ranges all around me and breathtaking clouds. It was the never-ending sunset. I came home close to nine and there was still light in the sky making the most magnificent pictures. It’s a wonder I didn’t crash because I couldn’t take my eyes of the pictures He painted for me.
And a smile tugged at the corners of my lips. “You did this on purpose. You tore my sheets on purpose just to get two hours with me.” And I felt loved and treasured and sheepish.
The sheets were replaced, and I got a new design and color to boot, along with 650 thread count. I thought I’d better up the ante. We clearly like to sleep. Or, be in bed. I stopped at Chick-Fil-A to use a free coupon, but didn’t read the fine print. I thought chicken sandwiches would be a universal menu option at a chicken restaurant, but apparently it is specific to breakfast. So, I stuck with fries and a coke.
And we are already planning our next date night. And I heard Him ask me, “Now wasn’t that fun?” “Yes, Lord. I had a blast.” “Am I good enough for you? Without anyone else or their pleasant opinions of you?” And I couldn’t reply. Because we both knew He was right. And I was embarrassed that I had to prove my love for Him.
And I remembered Peter after the resurrection when Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him. I don’t believe the number was coincidental considering the three times Peter had denied Him just days prior. After He had secured his love, He then said, “Feed my sheep.”
Until we learn how to love the Shepherd and minister to Him, we will not be very effective in loving His sheep.
Until we learn how to eat waffle fries with God, we won’t be able to feed His children with the Bread of Life. We may never know the balance between ministering to Him and to His people. But, He will probably let us know in His own creative way. Perhaps when no one answers their phone or returns texts or shows interest or has time to spare. We can choose to take it personally, or we can take a compliment and turn our ear towards our Lover who is pursuing and wooing us.
And, plus, I’m pretty sure He took all the calories out of my fries. Can your friends do that?