As a young girl, I loved horses. When I was about 16, after countless nights of praying into my pillow, my Dad got me my own horse - Hallelujah! (Actually, the horse belonged to both me and my younger sister, Suzanne. But because Suzanne didn't have much interest in livestock at the time, the mare was, for all pratical purposes, mine.)
Shortcake was payment from a cowboy for Dad's legal services. She was a small horse, the perfect size for a young girl just learning to ride. A freckled appaloosa, Shortcake looked like someone had sifted powdered sugar over the top of her brown coat. Although a bit ornery at first - either because of my own inexperience with horses or because she was unaccustomed to much attention - Shortcake soon settled into a sweet, forgiving disposition.
Each morning before school, I trudged sleepy-eyed to the barn to feed and brush my treasure and turn her out to pasture for the day. Then, first thing when I got home in the afternoon, I pulled on my boots and hiked back on the farm to round her up. Shortcake would undoubtedly be grazing in the field furthest from the house. I'd run up, hop on her bareback and bridle-less, and let out a whoop. We barreled like a tornado for the house, me lying low over Shortcake's neck, my legs clamped firmly around her sides. I felt like a wild Indian woman - just me, my horse, the rush of air past my face, thundering hooves beneath! Back at the barn, both our hearts pounding, we'd saddle up for a longer, more dignified ride along the country roads and through the fields near home.
Such good times! The best part of every day was the time I spent with Shortcake. I loved that horse, and I believed with all my girlish heart that she loved me, too. I stayed on top of my homework, kept my room picked up, checked off my chores, just so I'd be free each afternoon to ride. Time with Shortcake was precious, something I defended and labored to protect.
My Mom told me once, when I was still a young girl in love with a horse, that time was a meter that revealed my heart. Time showed me what I truly loved. "You work very hard to make sure you have time every day to ride your horse," Mom said. "The fact that you deliberately make her such a great priority shows how much you love her."
I knew Mom was right about Shortcake - that was undeniable. But Mom's words have challenged and often convicted me in the many years since. When I look at how I use my time today - what things I fight for, what things I let disappear into the black hole of over-commitment and packed schedules - what does time say about the things I truly love?
I say I like to spend time with my kids. Does my time-o-meter confirm this? Well, the needle may peg to the left on an occasional bad day, but, yes, I think the meter shows that my children truly are a priority and a delight. And for the three-plus-one no longer living under my roof, those whom I can't physically be with each day, they occupy much of my thinking and prayer time.
I love the family of God. Really? How does meeting together with the saints measure on my time-o-meter? Do I eagerly and regularly meet with others for worship, study, prayer, and fellowship? When we are not together, how much time do I spend praying for my sisters and brothers in Christ? Does my heart long to be somewhere else, besides in the company of this bunch of crazy, Christ-dependent sinners?
I love Christ. He is my very dearest Beloved. How much time do I spend each day in communion with Him? In Scripture? In prayer? In thinking on His beauty and goodness and mercy? Do I jealousy defend my time with Christ each day? Or, do I skip over Christ and get lost in the busy-ness of the day, thinking, well, after all, He'll understand. And anyway, He is sooooo forgiving. Besides, we'll have eternity together after this life - it doesn't really matter whether or not we spend time together now.
It's a rough day and I'm tired. Burned out. Used up. Lost in dark introspection. He says he loves me, but does he really?....if he did, he'd talk to me. -OR- People can be so presumptuous...how dare they impose on my time! -OR- Does anybody here even care what I think about....? -OR- Why did he have to answer so rudely, so meanly? Doesn't he know that hurt my feelings? What does the time-o-meter say about how much I love myself? Am I wallowing in idolatry of Self? Blech! (As a dear friend once put it, humorously, am I a Solar Sister? "I am the sun, and everything revolves around ME!")
Shortcake...I still smile thinking about that small, appaloosa mare. My first true love, confirmed by the time-o-meter.
Thirty years later, what do I love? What does my time-o-meter register today? How about you?
3 months ago