We’ve been uniquely designed to have a first love, a relationship that is unique with God, and to become experts at mimicking Him, particularly mimicking Him in the way He loves. This is what Jesus is really talking about. Jesus actually wants us to love our parents and siblings and even people we’d consider enemies. Jesus never wanted us to hate one another, but by comparison, the love we have for others needs to pale radically compared to the all-consuming love and devotion we express toward Him.
But here’s the secret: When our relationship with God comes first, all earthly relationships suddenly make sense and take their proper place in life. This is where the love language of quality time enters in. Quality time requires giving that special someone your undivided attention—reassuring them by the way you spend time with them and the amount of time you spend with them.
Quality time sparks something magical—a sense of togetherness. Togetherness is the immunization from the disease of loneliness. Togetherness is transformative, reversing the isolation of our souls and even reversing the impact of the disease in our cells because it comes with communion with God and companionship with others. “Togetherness” is a powerful idea, but it flies in the face of what most people tend to think of when they think of relationships. As we give God our undivided attention, as we treasure Him, we deepen our relationship with Him and experience this sense of togetherness.
“God is waiting and hoping for you to take the first steps toward togetherness.”
Finally, in this experience we are filled to the brim, even overflowing. Unlike water pouring over sand, when we experience togetherness with God we find a clarity and joy we could never have imagined before. We’ve been created for this and we hunger and thirst for it, even when we don’t know that this is what we are longing for!
Many people don’t want to pay the price to experience this togetherness. They can’t bring themselves to be singularly devoted to Jesus. The people who started tagging along with Jesus after the party are a good example. They were not “disciples”; they had no intention of being devoted to Jesus and were unwilling to pay the price of discipleship to experience togetherness with Him. They simply had a good time at a party with Jesus and thought it would be exciting to tag along. As they tagged along, Jesus wanted them to know He was not interested in fans. Jesus is not interested in the hype of knowing lots of people thinly but rather disciples who would be devoted to Him deeply. Jesus is radically committed to quality time, to experiencing togetherness with us.
The great news is that you can easily take the first steps to experiencing togetherness with Jesus. God is waiting and hoping for you to take the first steps toward togetherness. Every step toward togetherness with God is met excitedly with a disproportionate return from Him. He longs for intimacy with us, to spend a quality and quantity of time with us that makes us who we were made to be.
Unfortunately, in our day, many religious people are nothing more than fans, thinly interested in Jesus for a variety of reasons. They travel with Him from experience to experience but aren’t deeply connected to Him. For them, Jesus comes second—second to family, second to making money, second to ambitious goals. Quality time is the number one way we can see the difference between a fan and a disciple because disciples seek to be with Jesus, to have an ongoing togetherness with Him. Togetherness—a profound sense of being with and for each other, of being seen by the other—is what we crave in our relationships, and when we don’t get it, no matter how many people we surround ourselves with, we find ourselves lonely.
Deep within you is a strong desire, a drive to know and be known. You were created first to know God and be known by God and then after that, all your other relationships can find their proper place in life. The biggest reason millions—maybe you— are lonely today is that there is no togetherness in your life with God. Togetherness, rich, intimate companionship, comes from spending quality time with Him. This may sound like a foreign idea, but spending time with God is literally the number one way to live a life that overflows into love, joy, and peace. A person who is living into togetherness with God will experience love, a deep companionship and communion with the one person who can fill them up, even causing them to overflow!
You can take the first step to experiencing togetherness with Jesus right now. As you’ve been reading, He has been waiting. Consider doing something real and practical with Him. When we think of quality time with others, often we think of connecting through an activity, a heart-to-heart conversation, or common experience. Perhaps you are in or can get into a physical space where you can do something to connect with God in a tangible way, alone in silence. Start by breathing deeply and slowly. Allow the distractions around you to fade into the background, and simply ask God for His presence. You can say something like, “Jesus, make me aware of Your presence.”
As you sit in silence, consider this prayer from Psalm 36:5-9. Read it slowly and stop.
Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
Read this prayer a second time now and pause. Finally, read it a third time, paying attention to the parts of this prayer that seem to fill you up. When you feel specific words in this prayer connecting with your soul, consider them, ponder them, press into them. Ask God why, why these words? What is it about that aspect of this prayer that is connecting with you? As you take this simple step of prayer and meditation on God’s Word, you will begin to experience togetherness with Him.
Finally, after you’ve prayed and meditated on this prayer, consider writing down what you experienced. This act of prayer, meditation, and journaling, writing down, can become an everyday thing, and as you experience togetherness through this simple practice, you will find a longing for it. This practice will fill you up. You will discover it is unlike other relationships, unlike water pouring over sand. Consider doing this daily through the book of Psalms for the next thirty days and watch how you experience the presence of Jesus in your everyday life!
by Gary Chapman and R. York Moore
In a world of varying beliefs and endless opportunities, determining how to spend our lives can seem impossible. And even more difficult than...
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