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When it Comes to Love, Time is of the Essence

posted Feb 10, 2015, 7:42 PM by Kelly Griffin
His girlfriend was in the hospital so Tom sent her a text. “Darling, I love you so much! I would cross the hottest desert just to catch a glimpse of your face. I would swim the widest ocean just to see your smile. I would climb the highest mountain just to hear your voice. Look for me. I’ll be up to see you tonight – if it doesn’t rain.”

I’m guessing she wasn’t too thrilled with that little tweet. When it comes to love, words are important, but deeds speak loudest of all, don’t they?

Valentine’s Day seems like a good time to ask, “What do you really love?” I don’t mean what do you say you love – wife, husband, family, friends – but what do you really love? If I could follow you around for a week, I’d know. And you’d know the same about me. We love what we spend time on.

Sometimes people really love someone, but they forget that time is the ultimate expression of love. How often has this story been repeated? A guy loves his young bride intensely. So he wants to provide the best of everything – home, clothes, whatever her heart desires. He works long hours, and time together is hard to schedule, but he figures they’ll make it up when they get financially secure. He is absolutely dumbfounded a few years later when she leaves him – for a man who will spend time with her. When he protests by listing all the things he has given her she responds, “Yes, John. You gave me everything – except yourself.”

Do you love your kids? What does your “time” say? Perhaps you subscribe to the old theory that it’s not the quantity of time but the quality of time with children that counts. Well, consider this. A study done several years ago by Urie Bronfenbrenner, co-founder of the Head Start program, asked fathers how much time they spent on average with their children each day. The average reply was 15-20 minutes per day – admittedly pretty skimpy. But what followed was staggering. Investigators then attached microphones to the shirts of the children to record actual parental verbalization. Care to guess? The average amount of time spent with kids by the middle-class fathers in the study was 37 seconds per day. Thirty-seven seconds! One wonders how much quality you can cram into 20 minutes, let along 37 seconds.

The greatest example of love in all of history is, of course, the life and death of Jesus Christ. Husbands in particular are instructed to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). Clearly God is speaking of more than just natural affection or sexual attraction here. This is a love that gives whether there is an emotional pull or not. It’s a decision, not an emotion. That sets the bar pretty high. But I can tell you this. You’ll get more than you give.

So, what or who do you really love? What does the way you spend your time say? Are some adjustments in order? It could pay rich dividends.

One mother decided to return to work to augment the family income. After a few weeks she was quite pleased with how her three children seemed to adapt. But she got a little wake-up call when her youngest son – watching her rush around the kitchen to get dinner on the table – asked wistfully, “Mom, do you remember pies?”

Perhaps someone in your life is asking, “Do you remember . . .?” I hope you do. Maybe you can make it a Happy Valentine’s Day for that someone.

Dave McNeff is pastor of the First Congregational Church of Eaton (