I know I don’t have to remind you that this Saturday is Valentine’s Day! A day we set aside for showing that special someone how much they mean to us. It can also be a difficult time for someone who doesn’t have an object of his or her affection to dote on or be the recipient of doting … but it doesn’t need to be a sad day for those who know Jesus as their First Love!
My First Prayer Garden
Almost twenty years ago, the revelation hit me that even though I was happily married after being single for 17 years, my husband was not first in my love life, Jesus was. And shouldn’t I approach my special time with Jesus each day with the same attitude I would lavish on my earthly love, Dave. So I set about finding a special place to spend with my First Love every day and I called it my prayer garden. At this time, we were living in sunny Southern California so I could have my quiet time outside almost every day. I’ll share with you in a moment how I’ve carried on this date with Jesus in my new home of Idaho. Here is the story that I wrote in 2001 of how I initially created the special “date” atmosphere in California.
Thinking of Jesus as the lover of my soul and the One I love above all others, gave me the idea of creating a romantic atmosphere for my daily “Quiet Time” with Jesus. It needed all the touches of a special date. First, it must be quiet and free of interruptions, so that meant outside. Since my backyard is all cement, I arranged colorful potted plants in a shaded alcove of the patio and hung a humming bird feeder. I placed a chair for Jesus and a chair for me with a small table in the center for a romantic fragrant candle. I later added wind chimes, and my son-in-law made a waterfall. Walla I had a Prayer Garden.
My Date Bag with Jesus is always Packed
Then I pack a ‘date bag’ with my Bible, a journal, devotional, highlighters, pens, Post-it notes, current Bible Study, and oh yes, a lighter for the candle. One trip back into the house for something I forgot could be a major distraction.
My “Date Bag” with Jesus
First thing every morning, I grab my cup of coffee, my date bag, a blanket or sweater if it is chilly, and head out for my date with Jesus in our Prayer Garden. Here is a major key to intimate time with my First Love—I shut the door to ALL interruptions. The answering machine gets the phone, and the family knows I am having my Jesus date when the Do Not Disturb sign is out.
When our date is finished, I repack my date bag and put it back in the same spot every time by the patio door so it is ready for tomorrow’s big date. If the weather is not good, Jesus and I curl up together on the couch, and I play soft instrumental worship music in the background.
To keep romance exciting, it’s good to vary the activities on dates, so I constantly add freshness to my Quiet Time with variety. Each Christmas, I pick out a new devotional for the coming year. I select one with an area for journaling love letters to the Lord. I start my Quiet Time date by praying the armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-18 and would never think of going into my day without this spiritual protection. I alternate working on my small group Bible studies or one I am doing for fun. Some years I read completely through the Bible, and other times, I leisurely enjoy the Scriptures.
At the end of our date, I sit back close my eyes and linger in conversational prayer, letting my First Love talk to me. He always whispers words of love and endearment as He reveals His plans, visions, and goals for us. Often, there are answers to prayers and questions, and many times, we just share a sweet silence. Like any wonderful date, I hate for it to end, but I know my First Love will be waiting eagerly for our special date tomorrow.
Idaho Quiet Times
Now that we live in Idaho with its four seasons, my Quiet Time locations change with the season: when the weather is nice, I’m out on the deck and when it’s snowing or cold I have a quiet time area right outside my office with a beautiful view out the window. I still have my Quiet Time bag packed and ready to go depending on where I’m having my date with Jesus. It’s my most favorite part of the day!
How about you? Tell me about your dates with Jesus. Leave a comment below, or if you receive my blogs by email click and leave a comment.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is a poem I wrote about my California Prayer Garden. Enjoy!
OUR PRAYER GARDEN
You wanted to meet me early in the morning
In a place that was special to just you and me.
My heart was willing, and I had such a yearning
To talk and be in your presence daily.
I began to arise just after the sun came up,
And searched for a place where we could meet.
It had to be quiet where no one would interrupt,
For the time that we shared would be so sweet.
I moved from room to room,
As I tried to find the aura,
For you and me to just commune
Every day at the same hour.
As we began to spend our time,
I felt you nudging as I would pray:
“Our get-togethers need fresh air and sunshine.
Let’s be amongst the beauty of the day.”
Of course, it was there all along.
The table, the patio, the view–
I had all the makings for a Prayer Garden,
But flowers were sadly very few.
A “green thumb” I have never been,
But I knew this was the spot for us.
And it would not be a Prayer Garden,
Without the ferns, oleanders and hibiscus.
A shopping trip to the nursery was fun,
Even though I didn’t know what to buy.
Some flowers wanted shade and others liked sun,
So I just bought what caught my eye.
Soon my garden was worthy of comment.
The flower beds were colorful and in full blossom,
And the array of potted plants carpeted the cement.
The transformation was truly awesome.
One final touch called out to me,
Wind chimes to catch Your breath in the breeze.
A hummingbird feeder for quiet company,
In the place where we will meet when ‘er You please.
Jesus, I know now why you sought a garden
When you went to pray alone that night.
Amongst Your creation God’s presence is sovereign,
You just know God’s plans will turn out right.
Janet Thompson 7/17/96