(Thanks to Mark and Brandy for inspiration on this one.)
"I Prefer You"
Some dear friends recently informed me they watched a favorite movie of mine, "Harvey, starring the late James Stewart. The story depicts a pleasant gentleman, Elwood P. Dowd (portrayed by Stewart), whose best friend is an invisible, six foot rabbit named Harvey. The movie does not actually show the rabbit (known as a pooka in Celtic mythology), but rather depicts Elwood relating to Harvey in a manner that implies the rabbit's presence and words. If you have not seen the movie, this may all sound rather strange. The production, storyline, directing, and acting are all top-notch, however, and the movie is considered by many as a classic.
Elwood ultimately finds himself committed to an institution because of his relationship with Harvey (who, of course, accompanies his friend there). Ultimately, Harvey becomes visible and audible to the director of the facility, and seems to enter into a friendship with the man that may supplant his bond with Elwood. As the story concludes, Elwood is released from the institution, thinking he will depart without his pooka friend. At the gate, however, Harvey joins Elwood to leave with him. He indicates his preference to Elwood, who responds in kind, "Thank you, Harvey. I prefer you too."
"I prefer you." Elwood's declaration of his preference brings tears to my eyes upon every remembrance. Not so much because of the affection expressed between Harvey and Elwood, but rather because of how beautifully it portrays an ongoing possibility of love between God and His trusting children in the Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly, He "prefers" us, that is, He gave His beloved Son to the cross of Calvary in order to secure eternally living relationship and fellowship with us. He dwells with and within us always. Upon this basis, we may prefer Him also - "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). Such response involves frequent opportunity to forego other things, interests, and sometimes people in order to bless Him with our conscious attention and devotion. Amid the necessary busyness of fulfilling our responsibilities and enjoying our privileges, many moments present themselves wherein we may express to our Heavenly Father, "I prefer You, Lord." The may involve time spent in the Scriptures, in prayer, in fellowship with other believers, or in doing something we know to be God's will for the present moment that will involve the sacrifice of something or someone else. Indeed, so many moments, so many opportunities offer to believers the possibility of blessing our Father's heart with "I prefer You." "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).
I am so glad my friends reminded me of the movie, and of the truth it exemplifies. I must be honest, however, that I am saddened also as I write these words, realizing how often I choose to prefer something other than the One who so lovingly prefers us. Certainly I do not mean that we must forego other things, interests, and people. God Himself "giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (I Timothy 6:17). Our experience of His blessings often provides to us the experience of Himself. There are times, however, when we are privileged to decide that rapt and undivided attention directed upon our Lord offers to us the most sublime opportunity of our lives. "Lord, I prefer You." This is love, the love of God for us that through Christ became the love of God in us, and by the determination of our chosen preference becomes our love for Him…
"When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek."
"I will love Thee, o Lord my strength!"
"But as for me, I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy."
Weekly Memory Verse
Surely one shall say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength. Even to Him shall men come, and that that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed."