I remember when Robert meant nothing more to me than a ride to the laundromat. I was an 18-year-old living 500 miles from home, and I didn’t have a car. Having waited until nearly every article of clothing I owned was dirty, I jumped at the chance to do my laundry in town rather than lugging it across campus to wait in line for an available washing machine. In my earliest memory of Robert, he is driving a friend and I down County Road 101 in a 1998 powder blue Camry with a mismatched hood, the color and texture of a chalkboard. He’d affectionately named the car Blueberry, and I remember smiling at how proud he was of a car with a malfunctioning door handle and duct tape covering the place where an airbag once deployed.
In March, we’ll be married 15 years, and those days seem so long ago. Robert still plays chauffeur most of the time, but years of marriage have taught me that the nice guy who offered me a ride is a man worth loving for a lifetime. At some pivotal moment in our relationship, I began to see Robert as more than a person with a car, a way to get from point A to point B, or a solution to my temporary need.
Now we’re in the thick of parenthood, and at times I find myself treating my husband like another pair of hands—someone to help juggle the myriad of responsibilities we toss between us on any given day. I am thankful to have a partner in life, but I am pricked to the heart when I realize this: I am beyond grateful that the partner I have is him. I am certain that there is not another man on earth who I’d rather laugh with or dream with. He’s human and fallible like the rest of us, but there’s no one I trust more to take my hand through life’s ups and downs or to hold me while I cry.
I can’t help but think of how many times I have treated Jesus as if He is a chauffeur, hoping He’ll drive me to the destination of my choosing. How often have I tried to make Christ the means to an end or a mere solution to whichever problem looms largest at the time? That’s what happens when the laundry list is forefront on your mind. Love gets pushed aside.
There’s no doubt that God has every answer to my every need. Still, that is far from the main point. Let me show you what I mean. Here is a list of the things I pray for often—the needs that weigh heaviest on my heart most days.
- A.J.’s healing
- For all of my children to know, love, and trust Jesus
- That my marriage and family would be all that God intends
- For opportunities to make a difference on others’ lives
- The safety and security of those I care about
- Resources to take care of our family, bless others, and build God’s kingdom
- Wisdom and direction
- Clarity in areas where I am confused
These prayers are important. They represent many of the most precious gifts God has given me. It is good and right for me to come to God with all that I have listed, and more. In fact, the Bible commands me to do just that (Phil. 4:6-7). In each instance, God’s own Word reveals that He is the answer to my need:
- He is the God who heals (Ex. 15:26).
- He is the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10).
- He is the author of marriage and family (Gen. 2:24, 1:28).
- He makes his people a light to the world (Matt. 5:14-16).
- He is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:10-11).
- He provides for our needs (Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:31-33).
- He directs us in the way of wisdom (Prov. 4:11).
- He guides us into all truth (John 16:13).
Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with my prayer list, but it can easily become a laundry list that prevents me from developing a deeper relationship with God. I can miss out on who God is if I focus only on what He can do for me. Am I pursuing healing or the One who is Healer? Am I content to just be saved, or do I want to know the Savior? Is it enough to have my needs taken care of, or will I pursue the heart of the God who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10)?
Focusing only on how God can meet my needs is like accepting a ride from a nice guy and never coming to the realization that he’s the love of my life.
Oh, that I would learn to center my heart and life on God Himself, desiring His presence above all else. With eyes fixed squarely on the One I love, my requests would become peripheral—a natural response to having experienced God’s faithfulness, but hardly the main event.
My relationship with Robert changed when my desire to know him better outpaced lesser things in my life. There were nights that I hardly slept because we talked and texted into the early hours of the morning. I took the same college algebra class twice–not because I had to, but because I just wanted to be with him. Even now, my love for Robert grows each time I look up into his eyes instead of down at my honey-do list. We inch a little closer when I pause to engage in conversation instead of rushing on to the next thing. Knowing this, I cringe to admit how many times I have put problems or productivity before presence!
I don’t have all of the answers, but I know that my relationship with God is different when I consider Him the end all be all, instead of the means to an end. Things are better when I pursue God’s heart instead of His hand.
Over and over in Scripture, God reveals Himself as the answer to the multitude of human needs. He is bread for the hungry and living water for the thirsty (John 6:25; John 4:10). He restores what is broken and is a refuge for the oppressed (I Peter 5:10; Psalm 9:9). The list goes on, but it is worth noticing that the first time God introduces Himself by name, He simply declares: “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3:14). This statement is an invitation to marvel at God’s awesomeness. To realize that eternity is not long enough to discover the depths of his love but that it’s worth trying anyway.
If we’re looking for a chauffeur or someone to help with the laundry list, that’s probably all we’ll find. But when we seek to know and love God Himself, we’ll discover everything we never knew we needed and more.
Beautiful reminder. Thank you for sharing.
Holly, you are such an amazing writer putting into words what only I can think. Thanks for reminding me to put God first, and to appreciate Jim, going on 62 years now.
So very powerful. Thank you for this reminder. ❤️