December 26, 2012
I was driving yesterday to Maryland to spend Christmas with and visit some of Martine’s family. If I wasn’t a psychiatrist, my other 2 options were, a professional baseball player or a NASCAR driver. I never get a chance to play baseball and act out those fantasies, but road trips are another story. With a wife and 3 girls in the car we had to do the unforgivable, take a bathroom break, which obviously upsets my “we gotta set a travel time speed record” mentality. So to my dismay, we took a break at one of the mega rest stops off Interstate. The place was pretty crowded with holiday travelers, and I ended up sitting at a table just next to a family of 4.
As a kid who was a stutterer with a lisp, I enjoy the voices of young children. I can still clearly hear my daughters’ childhood voices … so cute and innocent. Nicole had a cute little accent and stutter. One of the children at the table next to me was a talker who was about 10 years old. She tried hard to get her father’s attention. “Daddy, did Santa visit Grandma’s house, too … Daddy, do you like what you got for Christmas … Daddy, Daddy…” As I was listening, I realized I wasn’t hearing any response from the dad, so I looked over and saw that he was looking completely the other way, not hearing a word his daughter was saying. He wasn’t even there mentally … wasn’t where he needed to be. More importantly, he wasn’t where she needed him to be. Eventually the little girl stopped trying … but she kept looking up at him with hopeful expectation that he was going to respond. But, you guessed it, he never did.
I, of course, have no way of knowing his circumstances or his thoughts. And I know that there were times as a young father that I was just as guilty of not engaging with my girls when they needed me. Oh, how I long for the opportunity to go back and do it differently, do many things differently. I certainly am not judging that father, but it brought to mind how easily the distractions of the day and of the world can take our focus off the attention needed by our children, or other people who are important in our lives.
Isn’t this the same way we respond to God’s voice and prompting, focusing instead on more trivial and transient distractions, thinking the guidance of these distractions is more important than God’s guidance? Distracted and tuned into harmful substitutions is a dangerous road to wander down. This is exactly where Satan wants you. Warning buzzers should be going off in your heart when your focus turns from God’s soothing and peace-bringing voice and guidance to the dangerous callings of the corrupt and false-hope world.
Today, and every day, really make an effort to connect with your children or loved ones. After Jesus, these people in your life are the greatest gifts God gives. They are also the most important mission field most of us are ever called to. The easiest way to start showing your love, respect, and honor for them is by giving them your full attention when they are talking to you. But more importantly, when God is talking to you, stop and listen to Him! Listening to God or not is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Almighty God, I know that being faithful parents and guiding our children toward You is very important to You. Help me and all parents truly listen to our children, giving them the security, dignity, and love they need. Through us, they get to know the ultimate security and love You are excited to give them. Give all parents the wisdom and strength for this most important task of parenting. But please allow us to extend this attitude to all the precious people You put in our lives as our way of thanking You for these gifts. Most importantly, help me realize the dangerous game I play when I get distracted from hearing You. I pray in the name of the One who always listened to You, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14
But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing. They made their hearts like flint so that they could not hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen,” says the LORD of hosts; Zechariah 7:11-13