We sat down to dinner with the table almost creaking under the weight of the food. As is our habit, we prayed before we began to eat, realizing that all the blessings we enjoy are really gifts from a loving Creator. We held hands around the table, a chain of family and friends, from very young children all the way up to Great Grandma, showing our love for each other and thankfulness for the gifts.
Grandpa prayed, as usual. By long experience, I have learned that the attention span of the children is short. Dinnertime is not the time to engage in long-winded prayers, remembering all the sick and troubled, all those who have traveled afar, and those in the world who are less fortunate than we. No, we are simply thankful for the food and a few other gifts, asking that we will be faithful stewards of the gifts. Short prayers are the best at the dinner table. My grandchildren would agree. Some time ago, they learned that the words, “in Jesus’ name,” usually preceded “Amen”, which was the signal to eat. Accordingly, the older girl would begin saying “Amen” as soon as those other words were heard. I’m not sure if I have gotten longer-winded with time, or if the girl has just learned that the process can be hurried a bit, but recently, she has taken to saying the word earlier in my prayer, long before I’m ready to invoke our Savior’s name. “Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen….” is what I heard at the table today as I started to wind up my prayer. I hurried a bit faster to the real “Amen!” which echoed from several different points of the table. We all laughed and Grandma hugged the beautiful girl as the abbreviated prayer was ended. These times are precious and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
It did make me think a bit, though. I wonder if deep down inside, we’re all still little children at heart. We are in such a hurry to get to the next part that we forget to enjoy where we are right now, today. For some reason, we keep looking to the future and its promise, forgetting that the present and its reality is actually a gift given for us to savor and to carry us into that future. I know I am always doing that. “Just get me through this day…this job…this crisis, and I’ll be okay.” Then I get to the future and it’s not much different, simply more wishing for whatever comes next.
I find myself saying with the country songwriter of a few years ago, “I…I’m driving my life away, looking for a better way, for me. I’m driving my life away, looking for a sunny day…” It’s not so much that I’m driving it away as I am working and eating and sleeping it away, but little by little it’s speeding past, while I look for that time when I’m satisfied with where I am. I’m pretty sure it never arrives unless we learn to be satisfied with today, here and now.
As children, we learn to wait (and long) for future events…bells to ring, buses to come, summer to get here. Back then, it seemed that those things took forever to arrive. From today’s perspective, they came and went with lightning speed. But, still we wait for future events and thus waste today and its joy.
I hear a little voice out there saying, “Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen…” and realize that it’s time to stop blabbering on now. I will oblige. But I will say this before I stop: “This is the day which the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!” I hope that you will take time to enjoy this day. It is indeed a gift not to be ignored, nor scorned.
“Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future.”
(Fly Like An Eagle~Steve Miller Band~1976)
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
(I Timothy 6:6)