Points to Ponder: Hey Dad...Got a Minute
Points to Ponder
Hey Dad...Got a Minute
With my briefcase full of work to do I was ready to head out the door to pour over my notes in preparation for Sunday's sermon. I need lots of time to just study and write--and rewrite--as I try to hear the Holy Spirit's guiding insights. I set my mind to go to my office (at Starbuck's) and park there for hours in my corner and work.
But, as I began to turn toward the front door, my little 19-month-old Joanna stationed herself in front of my knees and tugged on my pants legs. I looked down, she looked up. Traffic on the D.C. beltway doesn't stop me in my tracks as fast as that little girl can. Down went the bag, up went her arms. I scooped her up and brought her up face-to-face to me. She'll look at me and grin or she'll just look around and take in the view from on high. She loves to be held.
Meanwhile, my practical mind is noting the time. I need to study. I need time. My weekend schedule was so full that this particular 4-5 hours of time was all I had left before Sunday to really sit and immerse in the scripture. I love that time; I long for that time. It helps me "weed out" a lot of the peripheral stuff and little "rabbit trails" that a sermon can wander down if I don't tighten things up and explore the main points well. I'm a slow reader; studying comes hard to me. So time is of the essence... and the little voice in my feeble slow mind presses that point to me.
Meanwhile, Joanna lays her head on my chest. She grabs around my shoulders and hangs on. I squeeze her tight and grunt. She squeezes back as hard as her little arms can and tries to impersonate me. I say, "I gotcha!" She says with a smile, "Gotcha!" We laugh.
And the clock is running on.
When I put it all in perspective (and I hate to admit it), who's going to remember my sermon by Wednesday morning? Some already forgot by Sunday night. That's no excuse for doing slipshod work. It is a reminder to consider all of the sermons I preach; not just the ones from a pulpit, but the little "devotional messages" that I deliver to my girls when I let them alter my schedule. Those fifteen minutes of holding and playing with Joanna spoke a sermon to her that is recorded in her soul. The title would be "My Daddy Loves Me." I try to preach that one as often as I can; although it is often the most difficult to deliver. Why? Because those golden, priceless messages that go deep are delivered in the midst of the mundane. The little things can mean everything. But we tend to blow them off, sacrificing the important for the sake of the urgent.
When I sit with a family who is preparing to lay to rest their mom or dad, I hear the stories. They don't recall the Christmas presents, the wealth of things that may have been provided, or the ball games, sports camps, and multiple activities to which they were chauffeured. Even if the humorous or warm-hearted stories happened during some of the aforementioned events, the best parts were the little things along the way; something that was shared, wise words that were said, or sacrifices that were made.
For instance, my uncle recalled at his mother's funeral that decades ago when he would bring a Navy buddy home for supper, that she had been quietly serving him her portion. He later realized that she didn't eat on those nights.
I remember that my father, when I was just a kid, would always invite me to go on errands with him. To this day I feel lonely when I go into an auto parts or home improvement store. Dad and I went together. Changing oil is a mundane task, but it was in those moments that we got dirty together and just talked. I miss that. His sermon was "you matter to me," and "I like being with you." How many parents convey to their kids, "you are a pain..." or "I'd rather be somewhere else."
A famous biographer of a century-plus ago recalled a special day when his dad took him fishing. It was a warm memory for him, until years later when he found his dad's journal entry for that day: "Went fishing with my son. A day wasted." How many of us feel that way when our children take huge--or small--blocks of our time in which nothing is "accomplished?" When they speak through tears at our funeral it just may be that, in those moments, the most important things of our lives were accomplished: a legacy of devotional messages that said, "I love you."
"Children's children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father." (Proverbs 17:6 NKJV)
I try to be mindful of the awesome responsibility God has given us dads to influence the trusting souls of these little ones. Like it or not they learn about the love of God and how to access Him by how they are able to access their parents, particularly their fathers.
"My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways." (Proverbs 23:26)
They do give us their hearts. May we be especially dedicated to making our ways something worth observing. The best sermons on the truth and love are those which are lived out in the midst of the mundane.
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.