I love the Hankins’ family…They are this tall, lithe porcelain-skinned family with high cheek-bones and a measured passionate approach to life that is simply stunning to see played out in every day. It’s not uncommon to walk in their dining room at night and find the leader of an African nation or pastor of a local church or poor college student. They feed folks, left and right…physically, with big pots of real-Italian spaghetti and wedding-like cake…and spiritually with simple thoughts that can only come from time spent with The Father and a life well-lived in The Word.
When I was living with them, I noted one day how kind they were to each other. Elizabeth looked at me and gave this giggle like she had this beautiful little secret she couldn’t believe I didn’t know. She replied, “Well, it would be kind of silly not to prefer those we love most, wouldn’t it?” The conversation was interrupted and I was left to my reverie on this: to prefer those we love most. Hmm…I know I didn’t always do that. I used those closest to me as bouncing boards or stepping stones or fall-back plans…unkindly and unintentionally tossing them into the ‘to-be-used’ pile. That was my issue wasn’t it? I wasn’t being intentional. I wasn’t looking for ways to prefer those closest to me. Over the next 3 months of living with them, I watched…and learned…and eventually learned to emulate them. Now don’t get me wrong, they were absolutely precious and giving and utterly kind to everyone who came across their path (remember the varied assortment of folks I run across in their dining room?). But the kicker was, they loved those closest to them…well. They loved those God had especially given them to love, well.
To prefer those closest…they would leave the last piece of cake (everyone’s favorite) for Dad coming in from a long day at work. They would get home early if they knew one of us would be there, just so they could have a cup of coffee and a quick chat before the activities of the evening tore everyone back out into the night. They would see me coming in from a crazy day at work, pause whatever they were reading, and rearrange their introverted evening to include a walk around the block with me. It was just that simply: They preferred each other. They preferred me.
The ALWAYS God
Recently I was out running and I just kept thinking about the one thing that has remained the same for the past 33 years of my life:
His pursuit of me.
His watching out for me.
He tells me I am His favorite.
He prefers me.
And this started me thinking…He’s the ALWAYS God. He’s ALWAYS there. He’s always preferred me. He always will.
Because of my time spent in the Hankins’ house, I realized I’ve developed this funny little habit. If a close friend says thank you for something that I did, something that I didn’t think twice about because I “prefer” them, I respond with “Always.” For instance, I was coming in from a run, and pulled in the trash cans at our house. The roomie says “thanks!” and my response: “Always.” Meaning: I will always (to the best of my abiity) do something if you need me to or ask me to. I will always be there to support and love you. I will always prefer you. Always….for as long as I have breath. My “always” isn’t always said with a passionate tone of voice. But it’s always (pun intended :)) said with the same conviction. That “always” is my promise to be there.
Today as I sit and look on the character of God, His “Always” has stuck out in a way that is stunning….
He is wooing, always.
He is convicting, always.
He is changing, always.
He is breaking-through, always.
He is cleansing, always.
He is fiercely loving, always.
See the pattern? Funny thing, it goes on forever…always. My prayer for you today is that you might breathe in The Always God and live out the always preference to those closest to you today. So let’s help each OTHER…what is one way we can hold you accountable to prefer someone close to you? Is there a favorite shirt of someone’s you can iron? Is there a note of encouragement you can write? Is there an hour you can rise just a little bit earlier so you can spend a little more time together? Let’s share with each other and then show those we love by our words and walk!
Love you fiercely…always,