He kissed his kids goodbye as he left for work, while they were asleep. And he kissed them goodnight when he got home, after they were asleep. The young dad was working hard to provide for his family but the long hours were taking a toll on his marriage and the relationships with his kids.
Trying to find that right balance between work, marriage, family, church and personal time can prove illusive. One can try to do it all and maybe strike some semblance of balance for a time. But at some point, a project flares up at work or the marriage relationship drops into a valley. Then the realization hits that all cannot be balanced. Little ‘g’ gods have been granted power they should not be granted – the gods of self-interest, work, status, money, image and pride.
You shall have no other gods before Me. – Exodus 20:3. This was God’s first commandment given to Moses. There was no ambiguity. There was knowledge of a number of other gods but one would think that after following a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex.13:21), the other gods would lose their lure in the eyes of the Israelites. Yet, even as Moses was receiving the commands from God on Mount Sinai, the people were anxious for a god to hold up. Aaron fashioned a golden calf and many corrupted themselves in worship of their new god. Today God is present in the nature that surrounds us, in the opportunities before us, the Spirit within us, the marriage between us, the children following us, the church teaching us and the Bible leading us. Yet, just as the Israelites, we are vulnerable to what glitters ... so money, status and stuff are coveted as other gods. Many say that life in today’s world is about balance. But Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”- Matthew 6:24. Dads must decide which will be served.
Life is not about balance. It is about right priorities. The priority is the first commandment. Jesus repeated it saying, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.” – Matthew 22:37-38. Now there is a journey for the generations – learning to love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. That is a life-long journey that our kids need to witness and eventually embrace.
Prayer guide: Father, thank You for Your word and for Your love. It is so easy to get distracted by other gods in this world. I confess I have put my self-interest, work, status, money and my family before You. I even justified my life-balance as I worshiped You on Sunday. Forgive me. I know You are the one True God worthy of worship. It is through Your Son that the door was opened to a relationship with You, the relationship You desire to have with me. May I never take that for granted again. Thank You for the marriage and family You have blessed me with, where I get to enjoy the closest thing to a relationship with you on this earth. Help me lead my family in learning to love You with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind. That is the dad You call me to be and that’s the dad my kids need to see. Amen.
A faithful father has no other gods before God.