For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven
Yesterday my wife and daughter went out of town to visit friends at another church and spend some time with them. That left me alone with my fourteen month old battery pack of a son to fumble through the afternoon on our own. Add to this equation the fact that I had quite a bit of schoolwork to do, and I was feeling slightly convicted by my poor Sabbath practices as of late. I use the term “equation” because I have a tendency to be a bit pragmatic at times. I do enjoy sitting and pondering things, thinking deeply and having conversations of substance with friends and mentors, but I also can lean toward the line of “one track mindedness” when it comes to getting things done. So on one side of my equation was getting done with my work, and on the other side was a list of intangibles that had the potential to far outweigh my goals.
To shorten this tale a bit, I still have work to do tonight.
My son has two major weapons that he can wield against adult productivity: his intolerable cuteness, and his insatiable desire for attention. He was firing with both barrels yesterday afternoon and I was squarely set in his cross hairs with no chance of escape. A simple task that would have normally taken me an hour drug out over three. My pragmatic side was frustrated, to say the least. If you don’t have kids this will be hard to understand, because you only see the cute little people for a few minutes each week, but if you are a parent the reality of this situation will not be lost on you. No matter how precious, cute, and cuddly a small child is, there is a line. You parents know the line that I’m talking about. It’s invisible, but once it’s crossed it’s unmistakable. I didn’t beat or shake my son, but we argued for a good part of the afternoon. We would only stop arguing long enough for him to open a cabinet or pantry and drag out whatever happened to be on the bottom two shelves. My kitchen looked like a episode of Hoarders and my patience unraveled quicker than toilet paper on a race car.
So, in my meditations this morning, it was not surprising that the teacher in Ecclesiastes chapped my expectations a bit, bringing me back in line. I think that there is a possibility that many of our society’s ills are derived from this very simple idea. We are so intent on doing what we think we need to do that when life happens to turn in a direction that we don’t prefer we encounter the internal friction that accompanies unfulfilled expectations. However, Solomon enters this subject with words of existential wisdom as he says: “plan to be productive, make schedules and do your best to accomplish much, but when a one year old won’t leave you alone it might be a good time to scrap your plans and get on the floor.”
A simple encouragement from me, to me, and indirectly to us all from Solomon: every little battle isn’t worth fighting, and sometimes there just might be an adorable little boy who desperately needs us to lose a battle every now and then so we can get on the floor and wrestle. It’s not always coincidence or indigestion or inconvenience that drives us away from our tasks, sometimes it’s God grace working undercover. He taught Solomon that goals are good but not ultimate. He taught me that grades and accomplishments are important but not my highest priority. He teaches us all that there is an order to life that we need to learn multiple times throughout our existence – every ladder has a top rung and forgetting that can be disastrous.
And then there’s perhaps the greatest lesson that I learned yesterday: there’s a time for everything, even wrestling.