I can’t believe that just came out of your mouth. Have you forgotten you’re seven years old?
In the face of mounting pressures and priorities, have you ever felt that the kids will just have to wait for your attention? That was the season I was in.
Over the course of many days, I would leave the house early, come home in the evening and spend only an hour or two with the family before it all had to be repeated. Family time, and especially family devotions, were taking a back seat to . . . to what . . . the important stuff?
“Had to.” We parents convince ourselves of that an awful lot, don’t we?
This has just got to be done. Of course being with the kids (and you too, Babe) is important but, I have to get through this first, then we’ll get back to our routine of spending time together.
But we never “get through it” do we? It never ends. That’s just the nature of life in a fast-paced society. It’s non-stop, isn’t it Dad & Mom, until some time a couple of decades later we are left wondering ‘Where did the years go?’ And, in all too many sad cases, ‘Why don’t my kids come around?’
But, we didn’t really ‘have to’. We just made our choices – sometimes selfish but often doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, after all, it’s for them, isn’t it?
That’s what my friend said to his frustrated wife after his pursuit of a Ph.D. had taken him away from the family for many months over several years.
“This degree . . . it’s all for you and the kids.”
“You can keep the degree. The Kids and I don’t want it. We want you.” she responded.
Sometimes God uses the most unexpected voices to get our attention.
Late one evening, just before the kids went to bed (late for them) the living room was quiet as I sat engrossed for hours in “something important.” For several weeks, my attention had been taken up with the noise and smog of life’s “urgent priorities”.
She was quiet as a mouse, suddenly appearing before my chair. I looked up to see her looking deeply into my eyes with her penetrating, intuitive gaze.
She wasn’t smiling, or frowning. Just looking at me . . . looking through me . . . looking into my soul. Then, in the sweetest little girl voice this side of heaven, my 7-yr-old, Savoury, said . . .
“Daddy, Teach me while my heart is tender.”
Yes, it was my little girl but, it was also God speaking. Instantly, I knew I had heard directly from the Lord regarding my entire family.
Through my little girl’s . . . what was it . . . a plea, exhortation, rebuke, admonition, instruction – the Holy Spirit grabbing Dad by the lapels and giving him a good shake? – I had been brought up short.
Matthew, your children’s hearts won’t be tender forever.
We’re busy now. We’ll be busy tomorrow. We’ll be busy twenty years from now. Our opportunity for shepherding the hearts of the first disciples God entrusted to us is right now – today. We can never know what tomorrow will hold. Today is what we have.
Are all the demands and busyness and priorities really that important? No, they are not. Old people in their declining years never sit around wishing they had spent more time at the office.
I looked into Savoury’s eyes, put down whatever it was I was working on (isn’t it significant that I have no memory, whatsoever, of that important thing that took me away from my family?) and pulled her close to me.
I love you, sweet girl.
How did you spend today? Has business or other “urgent” matters crowded out the truly important in your family relationships?
You have the power to change course and get back on track for what will have eternal consequences.
Maybe your children are very young and wouldn’t formulate coherent thoughts about you investing in their lives in the critical years of adolescence but, if they could they’d say,
“Daddy . . . Mommy . . . teach me while my heart is tender.”
God bless you, Dad & Mom, as you seek to shepherd the investment God entrusted to you.
Matt Jacobson is a biblical marriage coach and founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).