If I'm here, and you're here, doesn't it make it our time?
There are some moments in your life that you know you need to savor and enjoy. By the grace of God I have been keenly aware that I need to appreciate the moment, for it will soon be gone.
I've been blessed with many such moments, where I wanted time to stand still, for I knew it was an experience that I would one day look back upon with great nostalgia. They've all involved my children and I've had at least one with each child.
The first was when I took Sarah on a "Daddy-Daughter" day when she was less than a year old. Much of the time was spent with her asleep in the stroller as I pushed her around the pond at the park. But sitting on the park bench with her snuggled up on my chest I was overcome with emotion. It was as if I could see her going to school and graduating and dancing with her at her wedding. I knew in an instant that she wouldn't be a baby for long and that I needed to absorb the moment as best I could.
Rachel has always been a "Daddy's girl." She's always been the one most inclined to like what I like and to care about the things I care about. She would always run to me at full speed when I'd pick her up from preschool. I was doing some church work on the computer when Rachel was 4 years old. She had come in to visit for about the 93rd time and I really didn't have time and wasn't interested in small talk. She had come in and wanted me to show her my pipes, explaining which country each one was from. She had come in to talk about what I was doing at church and she reminded me that I was the pastor of the church and that it was important because I helped people learn about God. None of this was helping my efficiency.
However, when she came in and I gave her a curt, "What is it now, Rachel?" and I got a sheepish, "I brought you a Cherry Coke" time stood still. I looked at her and the thought hit me like a ton of bricks, "She just wants to spend time with her daddy." I knew there would come a day soon that dad would be much further down on the depth chart and that I would have a hard time getting time with her. With tears in my eyes I gave her a hug and then held her at arm's length just to look at her. She asked, "What's wrong?" I responded with, "Nothing. I just want to remember this moment forever."
Eric Jr. is my only boy and with that comes certain blessings and curses. One such mixed bag occurred last January when he and I made a road trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to get our picture taken with the World Series trophy the Cardinals had won a few months prior. We had a great time and pulled off to the side of the road so I could take his picture in the snow. Doing so I was overcome with the realization of the uniqueness of the event.
Though the Cardinals have been a good team, this was only their 2nd championship in my lifetime. I thought, "We're in Oklahoma standing in snow wearing Cardinals gear as I'm making a road trip with my boy to get our picture taken with the World Series trophy. There's a greater than zero chance this will never happen again. Enjoy it." I recorded the moment with the camera, but I savored it in my heart. What's more, so did my son. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "Dad let's go back to Oklahoma, just you and me." He starts kindergarten in August of 2008. We'll definitely have to get in another road trip before then.
TONIGHT I had another one of those moments.
Victoria had fallen asleep on our bed and after midnight it was my job to carry her up to her own bed. She is 2 years old. As I started up the stairs I had the distinct feeling of Déjà vu, particularly since I had done this same thing recently, but with my 8 year old daughter, Sarah.
I had a flashback to when Sarah was 2. I was stopped in my tracks as I realized that in the blink of an eye Victoria would be 8 years old.
I got a call this past week from my boss at Southwestern Seminary, checking in on my PhD progress, which has not been impressive, to say the least. He encouraged me to keep plugging away at it, though it may take a while.
But, as only a brother a little further down the journey can do, he gave me some advice. He said to "enjoy your kids," to enjoy them while they're young, because you'll never get that time back.
Walking down the stairs tonight, I thought of two things.
ONE: the words of a song by Kansas that was playing on the radio as we left my Uncle Terry's funeral in 1979:
I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment's gone ...
It slips away, and all your money won't another minute buy.
Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind.
TWO: the words of James:
What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
-James 4:14, ESV
I enjoyed taking the family to the Plano East high school football game tonight, but even more I enjoyed standing there beside Victoria's bed, holding her in a horizontal position.
I committed that I would hold her and enjoy the moment until my arms or my back gave out. My arms gave out before my heart was done.
Sometimes late at night when I check on my kids before going to bed I will just kneel down by their beds and watch them sleep. I'm overcome with love for them and can't help but thank God for them and pray for them. Sometimes I lose track of time, but I know our time together is short and I find myself repenting of every moment with them that is wasted.
Because if I'm there and they're there, that makes it our time, and I'm going to savor it.