They really are some of my favorite times. One might even call them sacred interludes. But, right now I’m too busy.
I’m too busy.
I know I’m not the only one who says the words. But somehow, they must have seemed like a challenge to someone—somewhere.
And, into the flying wheels of my frantic activity with no time for interruptions, the Creator shoves a stick between the spokes, bringing the entire juggernaut to a jarring stop.
The stick, He calls family.
It is, arguably, the most important institution there is. At least in the order of appearance in the Biblical history of mankind, it is the very first relationship between humans the Creator saw fit to address. The very first.
I’ve written before that the words attributed to God, it is not good for man to be alone, were not only about Adam, but also about every person who would be born thereafter. Family was His solution. (Genesis 2:18)
It still is.
But, when I have deadlines and goals in mind, I can’t be bothered.
I need to finish this!
Stress builds and disappointment looms. Interruptions are—well—interruptions.
“We’re having a family dinner. Yes. It’s already been scheduled. They’re all going to be there.”
The dreaded stick slipped into the wheel spokes.
After I picked myself up (sudden stops aren’t all that comfortable), we headed to the dinner. I did, however, pack my attitude along just in case, not having lost that in the commotion.
The attitude went with me, but it didn’t come home. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of it.
I think it happened at about the time we asked the blessing on the massive piles of food that awaited. Standing around in a circle, we joined, first our hearts and then our blended voices, in praise to a Creator who knew we needed to have food to live and family to thrive.
The food is gone. The family is not.
May I share what I learned—in that blessed space called family—after I lost the attitude I had clung to as I was shoved through the back door?
It had little to do with the children screaming and having fights with pool noodles as they cavorted in the water, and even less to do with their entry into the house dripping said water on the floor. The shooing out by aunts, uncles, and grandparents was of little consequence in the lesson—not of no consequence, mind you, just not the most important component.
It had even less to do with the reminder that any description of meat which is preceded by the word habanero should be given a wide berth by aging grandfathers with digestion issues. Still, that most assuredly is one lesson from the evening I will remember for a long time to come!
No, the real truth driven home by the interactions of the evening has occupied my mind for most of the hours since then.
The Lovely Lady and her siblings sat at a table, along with a few additional onlookers, as they went through family treasures. Jewelry, knick-knacks, and photographs were the subjects of their attention.
At times, the level of conversation was as quiet as a single voice reading an entry in a journal from seventy years ago. But, as the cache began to spread around the table, the volume level increased markedly. Individuals spoke with the person sitting next to them, and others called excitedly across the old table, itself a lovely relic from the family’s past, to exclaim about some memory from long ago.
Near one end of the old table sat two delightful onlookers, both of them past the four-score mark in years themselves. The ladies smiled and nodded at the parts of the conversation which were aimed at them, but as the volume level increased, I could see they were understanding less and less of what was being said.
It’s not an uncommon problem for older folk, but I’m beginning to realize it’s not all that unusual for younger ones, either. Perhaps, not in the same sense, but the problem remains, all the same.
When all about us is incessant commotion, we have difficulty deciding what is essential and what is just tongues wagging.
I’m living in a noisy place right now, the yammering of the necessary overwhelming the still voice of the fundamental.
Perhaps, I’m not the only one who is swept away in the current of must-finish, while the peaceful eddy of life-abundant goes unnoticed in our passing.
I watched, on that night of discovery, as one of the older duo leaned near to the other and suggested that, since she was having difficulty hearing in the din, the other lady should speak directly into her good ear.
This is why I needed to be here on this night. Well, besides the pulled pork and home-made ice cream.
Not over the din and the pandemonium of the world does our Creator speak to us, but in our ear, as old friends who share secrets together.
He won’t stand amid the commotion of the marketplace and shout at us, but He beckons us to come near. Then quietly, and with perfect diction, He shares His heart into ours.
In my frenetic activity and the noise of life, I forget to turn my ear to hear His voice.
Do you hear Him now?
Maybe, it’s time to lean in and let Him speak in your ear.
He waits for us to turn a listening ear to Him.
I’m turning His way again.
Quietly, He comes,
Not on wings of storm, nor yet on backs of thundering steeds.
Quietly, He comes
By invitation, whispering truth—a breeze ‘cross the reeds.
(Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.)
My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
(Proverbs 4:20 ~ NASB ~ Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation)
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
(1 Samuel 3:10 ~ NIV ~ Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® All rights reserved worldwide.
Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.