Time: the most precious resource on Earth. We all have the same amount. We all choose to spend it in whatever way seems best to us. Some are great budgeters of their time. Some choose to let it pass nonchalantly. We can buy many things in this life, but when our time is up, there is nothing you can do to extend it.
Recently, the fleeting nature of time has been in the forefront of my mind. I had a dear friend experience a tragedy that for me as a father chills me to my core. "Bill" had been separated from his wife for some time. He had run from God. When the time was right, he came back to the God who loved him. He worked feverishly over several years to mend fences with his ex-wife. When I first met him, he was a few weeks away from getting remarried to his wife. He was as bubbly as a teenager in love. It was admirable to see him genuinely love his new/old spouse as much as he did. There was much happiness on the day they got married. To him, the world was made complete again.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Then, last month, unspeakable tragedy came crashing into his world. His daughter, who was to graduate this summer, was killed by a drunk driver. There are no words, and still are none that I know that would take that hurt away. The very thought of it makes my heart race. As a parent, you think that after your kids reach a certain age, that they are “ok.” You think that they will live to old age and succeeded you when your time comes. In the days after the funeral, "Bill" wrote on his Facebook page simply: “Thank you for all your prayers.” Under that he posted a meme, of Psalm 73:26, “God remains the strength of my heart.”
What is a dad to do with such tragedy? For me, a personal inventory was necessary. I am a tech guy by nature, so I like to play with techie things. Unfortunately, that bleeds over into my home life too often. I like to play with gadgets and learn new things. There is nothing wrong with that.
What is wrong, is when I allow my gadgets to take time away from my family. My daughter is at an age where she likes us to play with her constantly. She has no siblings, so mom and dad are her play things right now. How often do I play on my phone, tablet, laptop, etc., instead of spending time focusing on her? How much time do I give to my gadgets versus how much time I give her? The answer is far more than I should.
This is a societal problem. As we grow more removed from each other, we have grown addicted to our gadgets rather than the people around us. I pay my mortgage with technology, I know how much it pervades society. To not be able to interface with technology means you are left behind. What I don’t want to happen, though, is for my daughter's only memory of me is with a gadget in my hand.
This is a straight up challenge to anyone who reads this: make time for what is important. Unplug from your device, and plug into your family around you. Shock your spouse and do the dishes unexpectedly. Stop tweeting and go get ice cream randomly. Figure out a way that works for you that you can spend the time you have with your family only focused on them. Life has to go on. Clothes have to be washed and the grass has to be mowed.
But, none of that should come at the expense of your kids or your spouse. If you are leading them the way Christ would have you lead, you sacrifice everything about yourself to love and support them.
Girls have a way of wrapping dads around their fingers. I know my friend made sure that his daughter knew that he loved her unconditionally. If he can find comfort in anything, it is that he demonstrated a Christ-like love for her. In a post her Facebook page around Christmas, she tagged her dad in a meme where the statement was made, “The only man a girl can depend on is her daddy.”
I pray that I can be that father. I pray that you can too.