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Quite some years ago now I was spending some alone time in a personal retreat setting when I heard what I have come to call “that whisper”. It sounds like a gathering of words within my mind that slowly settle and I have come to believe that this is a divine activity. It doesn‘t happen often (rarely, in fact) but when it does, it happens at a strategic time in my life and/or ministry.

On this occasion the “whisper” sounded something like this.

Mike, I want you to pay careful attention to your relationship with Bev because that relationship most closely approximates to our relationship – you and Me. Listen carefully to what Bev says on those occasions when she is asking something more or different from you. She won’t always be right but it would be foolishness on your part to assume she’s never right.

As I pondered this whisper, I could see how it might work. For example, Bev would often observe that she felt neglected or ignored when it came to my allocation of time. I’m somewhat ashamed to say that the family was often too low on my priority list.

Then there was the matter of communication. I tend to a person who processes issues and information internally before I share my thoughts whereas Bev often wanted a quick response. I could see how this particular dynamic in the human realm could be compared with prayer in the spiritual realm.

If you have read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, you will appreciate this comparison; I thought that Bev’s love language was “acts of service” and I would busy myself doing this, that and the other which I thought she would appreciate. Well, she did but her love language was “quality time”. That’s what she wanted most from me.

As I began to make the comparison between these two relationships – my Heavenly Father and my earthly wife – things became much clearer. So much of my life as a Pastor was spent doing things for the Lord, “acts of service”.

He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach
 and to have authority to drive out demons. Mark 3:14-15 (NIV).

“…..To be with Him….” This is the priority of ministry. We are called first and foremost to be with Him. It is out of that relationship that ministry will flow.” Quality time” will give birth to “acts of service”.

So, over the intervening years, I have endeavoured to monitor and learn from my relationship with Bev and how that informs my relationship with God.


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