Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Desperate for a Date

A couple years ago our then-church hosted a Red Cross blood drive. The Red Cross people came in and transformed the fellowship hall into a mobile blood bank, and people from the church and the community came to donate blood. I volunteered to help recruit donors and made phone calls to countless people asking them to come out and donate blood. I’m not real enthusiastic about giving blood myself – only because my veins are tiny and it’s usually difficult for anyone to get blood from them on the first stick of the needle. Most of the time, the nurse has to dig around a little bit before she gets blood flowing, and it’s just not a fun experience. My husband, however, has perfect veins and donates often. Since he is such a good sport about it, and I had spent my whole week convincing people to come give blood, I figured we should show up and support the event. I wasn’t sure I was actually going to donate, but I would at least show my face. Besides, our son was going to be with us and someone (me) had to keep an eye on him. So after Luke got home from work, we headed over to the church. We got there shortly before they were going to wrap up and it was a very slow time. There were no donors in the chairs and the room was quiet. There was a table full of goodies – juice and cookies – and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so they looked very tasty. Our youth pastor’s wife had the kids outside playing volleyball, and she took my son outside to play.

As the nurse handed us the forms to fill out and asked us if we were ready to donate, I still felt a little hesitant so I kind of motioned for her to pass them on to my husband and skip me. Then all of the sudden, it dawned on me. My son is off playing in the care of a wonderful lady… there is no one in this room but my husband and me and a few nurses…it’s quiet and relaxing in here… there’s free snacks… they’re asking me to sit in a chair right next to my husband for the next twenty minutes strapped in the chair with no way to get up, no phone to ring, and no distractions of a television or a four year-old…. This is a date! I instantly became thrilled to donate blood and began looking forward to the opportunity to sit with my husband in a quiet room for twenty minutes with no distractions and a free babysitter! I walked in hesitant to give blood, and I was now gleaming at the prospect of having a date with my husband at a make-shift blood bank. I asked the nurse if I could scoot my lounge chair right next to my husband’s so we could sit together. She looked at me strangely but agreed. I was all set to go and looking forward to having her stick a big needle in my arm and draining out a pint of my blood (no matter how many sticks it took)! As it turned out, my dream date didn’t happen because during the pre-screening process we discovered that we were not eligible to donate blood because we had been to Africa within the past year, making us at risk for blood-born diseases such as malaria, which is unsafe for the U.S. blood supply. I was so disappointed when they told us we could not donate. There went my date night – right out the window. Luke and I laughed at how pathetic it was that we were actually looking forward to giving blood just to get a date night. You know you’re desperate when you’ll let someone stick you with a needle just to get some good quality quiet time with your spouse. It’s amazing what parents of a four year-old will do to get a free babysitter, some Little Debby’s brownies, and twenty minutes of peace and quiet!

I was willing to do just about anything for a date with my husband. But God knocked on my heart and caused me to ponder what I would do for a date with Him? With God? Yes. God wants to spend good quality time with us every day too. He wants regular dates with us. He wants to talk to us, hear what’s on our hearts, have us get to know Him better, and just spend some good time relating with us. That’s what relationship is all about, and He has made it very clear in His word that He wants a relationship with us. He is our Father and we are His children. Doesn’t that signify that there is a relationship between us? What parent doesn’t relate to his child? God also uses the marriage union to symbolize His relationship with us as He calls the church His bride and Himself the groom. Search the scriptures and you will see all over the Word of God references to the church as the “bride of Christ”. We the church – His followers, His children, His beloved – are called His bride, and He wants an intimate relationship with us as such. Jesus even says before his resurrection that he is going to heaven to prepare a place for us and then come back for us when the time is right. That was symbolic of the Jewish wedding tradition of the groom leaving his bride at her family’s home while he went off to build a house and prepare a dwelling place for them, and then coming back for her when he was ready to bring her to their new life together. Jesus uses the wedding illustration and the reference of the bride and groom to refer to His relationship with us more than any other illustration. It’s clear that He wants a relationship with us that is reflective of the marriage relationship, and that means He wants regular dates with us.

What would we do to have a date with Him? Would we turn off the TV… or get up a little earlier in the morning? Would we ignore the phone… or put off the housework for just a few minutes longer? Let’s even take it a step further: would we risk our lives like some Christians do in other countries where praying is illegal and Christianity is punishable by death? In this very day, there are countless Christians all over the world who risk their lives to read a Bible. They could be killed for speaking the name of Jesus, but they risk it all to have a relationship with Him. What would we do for a date with that God? How quickly do we pass up the opportunity and throw aside our chances to converse with the Creator if the universe as if it were no big deal? We have the privilege of having the God of all nations, creator of all, almighty and powerful God wanting to have a date with us – who He calls His precious children, objects of His affection, His beloved bride. And we have the freedom in this country to do it. Why would we want to pass that up? We have unconditional access to God, and so often we take that for granted. If He wants to have dates with us, why would we deny Him?

I’ve asked the question, and we’ve considered what we would do for a date with God, but we must also consider what He did for a date with us? He wanted so badly to have a personal relationship with us; an intimate connection; and access to our hearts so He could have regular dates with us… that He sacrificed it all. He gave everything. He gave His life. He was the one who gave His blood so that we could have dates with him whenever we want. He ultimately shed His blood and died as a sacrifice so our sins would no longer separate us from Him – so we could have access to Him anytime, anywhere. He paid the ultimate price. He wants dates with us. And oh how I want to crave those dates with Him. If we are willing to do just about anything to spend time with our spouses, friends, and loved ones, how much more should we want to spend time with our Savior? Plan it – schedule it – look forward to it… even get a babysitter if you have to. But have a date with God. And may it be a wonderful intimate loving time between your God and His precious beloved bride.

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