Core scripture: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Message: Well, summer is here, and I haven’t slept in past 5:30 am yet. Call me crazy. Insane. Nutty. I’ve heard it all, and I actually welcome the name calling. Ever heard Mandisa’s “Good Morning” song where Toby Mac finishes off the song by saying, “Man, you morning people!” I am pretty sure that comment was directed toward me. Being a father of a 1st grader and kindergartner, that time before 7:00 am is pretty much my only quiet time of the day in the summer, and I savor it. I pray. I read my devotions. I attempt to put God’s word in my heart. I write. I read Christian books. And yes, occasionally I will attempt to watch the end of an awesome guy movie on Hulu with no interruptions. This week? Over the Top! Not Sly Stallone’s best performance, but laughable nonetheless.
It was yesterday morning when my feet hit the floor at 5:00 am. My quiet time was totally planned out, and I was aching to dive into Kyle Idleman’s new book The End of Me. Chomping at the bit! My prayer time was fulfilling. Way back in January, I started a prayer journal, writing down my prayers before praying to help intentionalize the moments with God. My boys and wife were on my heart. I prayed fervently for good quality family time before heading off to church camp on Father’s Day this weekend with our middle schoolers. I prayed that God would use me heartily with my boys. Paul says in Philippians 2:17, “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.” That was me. I wanted to pour myself out for my boys so I could share their joy. God’s joy.
It was about the time that I mumbled my “Amen” that I heard the pitter patter of feet to the bathroom upstairs. It had to be my oldest. I reached for my book and cracked it open. Chapter one looked inviting, but I waited. I know my son. He rarely goes to the bathroom without asking for me to snuggle him. Part of me wanted to snuggle him, knowing he wouldn’t be asking that for too much longer. Part of me wished he would slide back bed without saying a word so I could dive into my new book. I waited. He flushed. The pitter patter of feet came to the stairs and then began creaking down to my space. I had made a rule that my boys weren’t allowed to get me until 6:30 am. I checked my watch. 6:10 am. Sure enough a smiley, squinty face peeked over the railing.
“Daddy, will you please snuggle me?”
He was wearing his adorable blue bathrobe. His eyes gleamed at me, shining in the dim of the light from my lamp. I smiled up at him and tossed my book to the side. Honestly, how can a dad say no to that comment?
“Sure thing, buddy,” I whispered.
The entire house was asleep but us. I gave him a piggy back ride up the stairs (Shh, don’t tell my wife. She thinks I will fall down someday, but I was feeling as strong as a bull). I lay him gently on the bed and nuzzled up to him. There are days when he will fall right back asleep when I rub his back and sing Aaron Shust’s “My Savior My God,” and there are days when he’s wide awake and ready to conquer the world. I could barely see his face in the dim of the light.
“Daddy, I gotta tell you something,” he began.
He always says that. Every day. The kid never stops talking as it is, and he always leads into his major thoughts by stating he needs to tell me something.
“What’s that, Little Buddy?”
My pet name for him. He loves it.
“Daddy, if I was Mario and TT was Luigi, what Mario character would you be?”
I had been wondering that all day. Bothered the heck outa me. I guess this was one of those days where he was not going back to sleep. I welcomed his sweet little head on my shoulder and smelled the sweetness of his shower the night before, hugging him close.
“Humm, that is a tough one,” I paused. “I think I might be … BOWSER!!!”
I gave him a teasing tickle to his side and kissed his forehead. He giggled uncontrollably. So much for Kyle Idleman. This moment was too precious! The two of us snuggled, laughed, read two chapters in his Mario book, and simply bonded. It was about 7:00 am when I suggested we go down for a special breakfast. And I made him chocolate chip Belgian waffles. They were finished right as my youngest walked down the stairs in his matching blue bathrobe. Special breakfast for three. As I enjoyed the waffles with my boys, I smiled. God’s plan for that morning was SO much better than my own.
Later in the morning I had planned on going to the gym. Summer has been good to me so far. So good that I have gained five pounds since the last day of school. A half hour on the elliptical was on the agenda, but my wife reminded me that we were going to her MOPS playdate instead as a family. Part of me was flustered. My plans, once again, were shattered, yet I decided to try to make the best of it. We dropped my oldest off at his friend’s VBS and took our youngest to the playdate. I found myself laughing and playing with a plethora of kids, aging from toddlers up to 2nd grade. Swing rides, sidewalk chalk, soccer, games of tag. You name it! We did it. By the end of the playdate, one of the moms jokingly asked if my wife would bring me to all the summer MOPS playdates. Seeing the joy on my son’s face, on those other kids’ faces, I might just have to do that.
God’s will is so mysterious at times. You can even have Godly plans lined up for you that fall through in favor of what God truly needs from you. Case in point with my plan to read my Kyle Idleman book, which by the way I DID finish chapter one late Tuesday night, and it was all I had hoped it would be and more. And I DID get a half hour on the elliptical today. It all works out in the end, doesn’t it? Wherever God leads you this summer, open your eyes to His amazing opportunities for growth.
Challenge: Open your eyes to opportunities throughout your day to do the will of God. Prayerfully put God as the top priority of your day, and let the Holy Spirit take over from there.
Song to bring it home: Do you have the courage, strength, and endurance to follow God’s will? Listen to Chris Tomlin’s “I Will Follow” for that extra nudge to allow the Holy Spirit to funnel you toward God’s purposes for you.
Prayer: Father, use me today. Not for my will but for Yours. Cleanse me of all selfishness, and allow Your Holy Spirit to guide me. Amen.