Parenting by Pager
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Have you ever tried to be two places at the same time? In many ways, technology is making that possible. Some parents are setting up a baby cam in the nursery so grandparents can log on the Internet and watch their grandchild sleep.
I've caught a commercial on TV a time or two where a father watches his son play a championship soccer game from his motel room while he's away on business. Using high speed connectivity, the father is able to "be there" with his son as he scores the winning goal.
But is it the same? Grandparents don't just want to watch their grandchildren, they want to hold them, and fathers don't want to just watch their son score the winning goal, they want to go to the victory party too. (From FreshIllustrations http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
Have the conveniences of the 21st Century, given us any more time? Do you feel like you have more time on your hands than your parents did? Or do you constantly feel a time crunch?
To tell you the truth, not having the time you want to spend with your family isn't the only problem. I'm not always sure what I'm supposed to do with the time I've got. There was a time when family roles were well defined. Dad was the sole bread winner. He worked hard and when he got home from work, everyone "gave him his space" and kinda catered to him. Mom brought him an icy glass of tea, Junior retrieved his slippers for him and Spot fetched the evening paper. Not anymore.
Dad still works, but so does Mom, in most homes. Everyone has to pitch in and keep the home. Children take on major responsibilities like yard work or kitchen duty. Dad may do the shopping and cooking or help with the laundry. And on top of everything else, Dads are supposed to be nurturing, kind, understanding, and the spiritual leader of the home. Dads, do you ever feel overwhelmed?
I wish I had a magic pill to give you that would resolve the internal conflict you feel when you're not able to be everything that everybody wants you to be. I don't. All I can say is I face the same choices and experience the same struggles. What I can offer you is a short list of priorities that can help you make wise decision in how to spend the time you devote to your family.
Like Job, use your time to build a spiritual fire. In Job 1:5 we catch a glimpse into Job's home environment, it says, "And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, "Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually." No wonder God praised Job's righteousness. He built a home where his children could thrive spiritually.
I have two memories that illustrate the spiritual fire in my childhood home. One afternoon I was looking for my Dad after I finished mowing the church lawn. He wasn't in his office, but his car was in the parking lot, so I opened the Sanctuary door to see if he was in there. He was. To this day I don't think he knows I saw what he was doing. He was on his knees with his face buried in his hands on the front pew. Quietly, I backed out of the room and shut the door.
The other memory is of my Mother sitting in her chair, wrapped in her quilted robe, sipping a cup of coffee and reading her devotional. Today, she still has her devotional material and her Bible beside her chair, and when I visit, I can still "catch" her walking with the Lord.
We don't build "spiritual fires" with our words. We build them with our actions. Have your children caught you "walking with the Lord" lately?
Like Abraham, use your time to build memories. Do you remember when God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac? It was designed to be a test of Abraham's faith, and in the end, God provided a sacrifice for Abraham to substitute for Isaac. But along the way, Isaac asked his father a question that leads me to believe this was not the first time they'd traveled on this mountain. "And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, 'My father!' And he said, 'Here I am, my son.' And he said, 'Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?'" (Genesis 22:7 NASB)
Abraham built more than an altar to sacrifice to God, he built memories with his son. Several years ago, we bought Susan's grandmother's 18-foot trailer. That wasn't a hard decision for us. When Susan's Grandmother died, her Grandfather wanted to get rid of their camping trailer, the price was within our means, so we bought it. Oh, it is nothing fancy, truthfully, we probably could have gotten a much better trailer for a little more money, but we wanted it for sentimental reasons. Purchasing the trailer was an easy decision, deciding what to do with it wasn't.
When we bought it, the trailer was parked on Susan's brother's property in Colorado, about 15 miles away from the family acreage. He offered to let us keep it there indefinitely, with no strings attached. Moving the trailer meant we'd have to build a road, install an outhouse and haul water, all at considerable expense. The trailer was already hooked up to a septic tank and had running water and access to electricity--it was a perfect arrangement.
Perfect, except we'd spent 15 years building memories on land 15 miles
away. Memories of the first time Stephen saw a deer, or when Susan out
fished me in the pond or watching Jamie feed the chipmunks. There was the
year Mom and Dad and my little sister, Lori came to vacation with us and
how much she enjoyed "shooting deer," (with a camera, of course).