Vacation – Day 2

Have you ever just stared at the screen (or paper for those of you who don’t own computers, and therefore can’t even read this) while trying to figure out what to write? That was what I did this afternoon for a couple hours. It was miserable. I’d hoped to get more writing done than I did, and I’d hoped to really crank out a few posts on this silly blog, but instead I sat looking at a blank screen.

Yes, I know that during those times, all the writing pros would say that I just needed to start writing and eventually something would come up, and I remembered that advice later, after the fact, but by then I’d moved on to doing something else…so what did I do today? I played a game with my kids.

We prize game times at our house, and we really love to sit down and play together, but it’s not often that I will take 1 1/2 hours in the middle of the day to play a game with my kids. That’s the beauty of being on vacation though. I am really trying to remind myself that there’s no rush while I’m here. I don’t have to accomplish everything I want to accomplish all in the first few days. As a matter of fact, I’ve found that productivity is often like a landslide for me, and it tends to build exponentially over time. With this in mind, it stands to reason that the last week that we’re here should be a very good time for my creative side to leap out of its very thick shell…or something like that.

I would commend to all of you who have children, that you should take more time than you do to spend with your children. Working with them, teaching them, playing with them, and just enjoying them. I’ve talked before, though maybe not on this blog just yet, about how our children are “joy conduits” for us. They might not be bringing us joy right now, and they may not bring us joy for a while, but, God has ordained that as we put into our children, and as we disciple and love and lead our kids, that our children will bring us joy through that process. 1 John 3 says “I have no greater joy than to know that my children walk in the truth.” This verse means that if we want joy, then discipling our children, and playing with our children, and loving our children is a sure-fire way to get more joy in our lives.

So take some time today (well, it’s kinda late today, so make it tomorrow) and go enjoy your children. And, if you are like some, and you find it difficult to enjoy your children, then pray to God that he would change your affections, and that he would show you the truth that your children really can be “joy conduits” for your life.

Those of you who know me understand how important joy is in my life, my theology, and my teaching, and because of this I think that sometimes I get written off whenever I talk about it. I hope that doesn’t happen here. There are some of you reading this who genuinely don’t take time to enjoy your children. There are some of you reading this who have never taken the time to LEARN HOW to enjoy your children, and because of this, you don’t enjoy them. You may feel like this is better for you, because working on fostering amazing relationships with our children takes work (and it’s work that I admittedly am not very good at), but it’s truly not. You are depriving yourself of joy when you refuse to invest in your children.

When I worked at a christian bookstore, I would frequently talk to older men and women about their children, and the most amazing thing occurred to me: men and women who had children that loved God, and were active in church, and hadn’t departed from their parent’s faith, were exponentially happier than those who didn’t.

When I would talk to someone about their children and grandchildren, their faces would always either light up, or droop very low. It was never anything in between, it was always either a proud joy, or an ashamed despair. It was astounding how stark the contrast was. It was at this point though, that I really began to see the truth that although children aren’t always a joy, they are always joy conduits. It was then that I realized that, no matter how good our friendships are, and no matter how big our churches are (if we are pastors) and no matter how big our paychecks and houses are…if we’ve lost our children, we WILL battle despair.

My wife told me once that there are 7 “stages” that each human goes through in life, and at each stage, it’s a battle of certain character traits versus others. The last stage was named “integrity versus despair”. The idea was this: as adults grow into old age, they either look back on their life with pride and integrity, or they look back at their life with regret and despair. Well, in my experience, the thing I’ve seen most affect where you fall on that scale, has been whether or not your children and grandchildren are “walking in the truth.”

So today, I played a game with my children instead of working, because although working for my church brings me joy…nothing compares with the waves and waves of joy that my little “conduits” are capable of bringing me.

So…play a game with your kids, and learn how to better enjoy your kids;-)


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