I receive a lot of gifts as I travel among loving, generous people.
Most of them are duds. While the other person meant well, and tried hard, and spent a lot of money in some cases, it just wasn’t what I enjoy. I guess I am either weird in my tastes or really picky.
I find it just as hard to give a good gift. I think it is one of the more challenging aspects of life. I occasionally score big, but it does take effort, thought, and creativity to find something that the other person does not have and might really like.
The same applies to our intimacy with God. The best intimacy is shared intimacy. I have never been impressed with the marriage “deal” where he ends up going to the ballet with her in exchange for her going to the hockey game with him. That smells more like a win/lose proposition than real intimacy.
So in courtship or marriage, how do you find out what the other person likes, or what aspect of your gift he or she liked?
Don’t guess. If you guessed wrong with the gift in the first place, you will probably guess wrongly about the reaction.
So you need to set aside some time to ask the King what it was that He enjoyed the most about the event you just had, or the day or the week. Just ask! It will give you a glimpse into His heart that you might not otherwise get.
A friend of mine recently put on a big event for the King. After it was over and she was alone, she asked Him what He liked the best. His answer: “Did you see Sally’s face?”
The King got more pleasure out of the transformation her event produced in Sally, than He did in her gifts to Him. This was important for her to know.
So when do you ask? It depends on your personality.
I do it on a scheduled basis. I go home, greet my wife if she is there, then drop on the couch and run a 15 minute review of the day, savoring the things the King did for me that landed so well, and asking what He liked about the day.
For others, carving out a predictable block of time in a week is unrealistic, so go with what works for you. Are you a salesman in the field? Then perhaps as you drive away from one sales call, you could ask the King about that one.
Are you a busy mom? Perhaps while you do the dishes you could ask Him what He enjoyed about the dinner time.
If you are highly spontaneous and find it hard to remember often enough to build a new habit, then create some reminders. A Post-it note in the middle of the bathroom mirror will remind you to query Him while you put your makeup on in the morning.
Or perhaps you need a note on your computer screen that says, “Don’topenFacebookuntilyouhaveaskedtheKing!”
Or if you have a phone with an alarm, set it randomly for a couple of times during the day. When it goes off, check to see if there is any way to pause for five minutes and ask.
Is it irreverent to “text” the King on the fly instead of having a highly premeditated “date” where you dress up for Him and set aside the whole evening?
Let me tell you! I have given that question a whole lot of thought because I am much more comfortable with the formal, premeditated meetings with the King. MUCH!
But pragmatically I have two observations to make. First, all too often lately, He is not showing up for a date when I clear my calendar! It is quite aggravating, actually, when my soul sets aside a whole day for uninterrupted focus on the King and neither He NOR my spirit show up for the occasion.
Second, right now, in this season of my life, He seems to be texting me more than anything else.
I have circled around this about a thousand times, and this is my tentative conclusion. I think God wants us to be willing to give Him blocks of time, and to be versatile. If you are so busy maintaining relationships with your friends that you refuse to give Him any undivided attention, He might refuse to engage with you until you take those three days of prayer and fasting alone in a cabin in the woods with no cell phone signal and no iPad.
For those of us who have been absolutely marinated in the religious spirit, the King seems to be willing to go on very few dates, until we can learn to go skateboarding with Him, and let Him come to work with us.
Just a hunch, not a rock solid theological anchor.
Finally, for many of you, asking the King what He liked will be simple and fun. Others of you only wish you had a two-way dialog with the King like you hear about from others.
Don’t give up. Let’s try a different approach. Often your spirit can “point to” something the King likes, even if you cannot “hear” the words.
So let’s take dinner time. You are doing the dishes and you ask the King what He liked. Silence.
Break the meal down into pieces then. Hold each piece up, one at a time, and listen inside to see if any one of them stands out more than another.
You baked baklava for the first time and it came out so so. Your kids loved it, your husband said it wasn’t quite as good as his grandmother’s. No response inside.
There was a discussion of Johnny hitting a double in the little league game. No response.
Cheri grumbled about her history test. No response.
Then Danny spilled the milk and you scrambled to clean it up. And then you feel it — the King’s pleasure. No words are said. You did not “hear” Him. But you know He is pleased that you did not lose your temper. The work you have done in the last year to heal and to grow in character is paying off, and it brought Him deep pleasure.
You melt in tears at the kitchen sink in a moment of intimacy.
Copyright January 2011 by Arthur Burk
From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim