If you were to ask me how my wife and girls and I came to be sitting in the truck for an hour and a half on a Saturday night bouncing back and forth between Marty Robbins and Weird Al on the radio, I would have to honestly say, “Because my daughter wanted ice cream, and my ‘I am busy’ button does not function well around her.”
I had messages to finalize and refine, I usually do on Saturday night. I can work on a message all week, but my perfectionist streak will not allow me to regard it as finished up until moments before I walk into the pulpit. So I was sitting at the desk in my office at home, it was nearly 8:30 on Saturday night, and my youngest daughter walked in and announced that she was desperate for ice cream.
Moments later we were all in the truck heading for Dairy Queen.
On the way there someone suggested that we take turns picking songs to play. Naturally, the incomparable Ray Stevens was one of the first artists. From there the eclectic tastes of our family came out pretty quickly. I thought I did pretty well with Mr. Shorty, by Marty Robbins, but my girls seemed a bit perplexed by it all. I admit that I am a bit confused by their confusion. How hard is it to understand “Loud mouthed braggadocios cowboy bully gets himself shot by short dude?”
My wife had to go and pull out tear jerkers like “You’re Gonna Miss This.”
I thought I would wield the “knowledge of the aged” on them and pick one they surely would not know, namely “Mr. Bass Man” by Johnny Cymbal, possibly the peppiest song of all time. And yet my youngest child, born in 2003, perfectly sang every single word and note of that song from forty years before her birth. She then reminded me that I introduced her to it when she was eight years old, and she has loved it ever since.
Did you know that in the video from “Hello,” by Lionel Ritchie, the girl was blind? I didn’t. But trust me, the moisture in my eyes was entirely due to the humidity.
My oldest daughter served up some modern patriotic songs that I surprisingly did not know existed.
But my girls had never heard “Eat It,” by Weird Al, either.
Please bear with me, I have not forgotten for even a moment that this is a faith column.
There is certainly nothing “churchy” (nor evil) about ice cream or Weird Al or “The Streak.” The point of this column is not about ice cream or odd music. The point is the little moments of pure family fun that way too many Christian parents neglect either in their busyness or sometimes even in their wonderful passion to serve the Lord…
David was the man that God described as “a man after my own heart.” And throughout his life David demonstrated an admirable passion to serve the Lord. But David did not just have the Lord; he also had a family. And, while he clearly spent much intimate time with the Lord, we find him spending precious little time with his family. In one particular instance his son Absalom was begging just to see his father’s face.
It does not surprise me, then, to see how nearly all of his children went far astray, nearly destroying their father in the process.
Some years ago I had a heated conversation with a few contemporaries heading into the ministry. All of us were newly married, and none of us had children as of yet. The argument was over “down time.” Their opinion was that there should never be any of that; souls were dying and going to hell, and every waking moment should be spent trying to reach them.
My response was that, as pious as that sounded, it was actually disobedience. Scripture repeatedly commands periods of rest. Furthermore, neglecting family is the quickest way out of the ministry, not the best way to stay in it.
The years have proven me correct, as all of those men went on to lose their families and their ministries.
A church can always get another pastor, and any service for the Lord can always get another servant; your wife and children can never get another you. And once you have frittered away those years they are at home, those years are gone forever. So serve the Lord with all your heart, and also take time for undiluted family fun. Have the bread of life, and have raspberry fudge blizzards. Worship to Amazing Grace, and giggle to “Party At The CIA.”
And for what it is worth, my turn is up next, and “Patches” is cued up.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com.