July 31

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers. . . . —Malachi 4:6

During my last two summers of high school, I spent idle hours pelting golf balls across a driving range and honing my short game on the practice green. Away from my boarding-school classmates, I had a handful of golfing buddies I enjoyed playing with, but jousting with them from tee to tee couldn't compare with the times I played with my father.

I'd wake from a late-morning slumber and call him at his office: "Dad, can you play golf today?" He would hesitate, then promise to call back. Minutes later the phone would ring; the answer was always yes. When we'd tee off and when we'd have lunch were the only uncertainties.

Now that I'm grown, I can't imagine how my father managed to cancel or rearrange his appointments to accommodate my whimsical desire to play golf. I know that the golf itself was not the attraction; it was simply the joy of being together.

I'm a father myself now, and my four-year-old son William often says, "Daddy, let's play!" He usually says it when I'm heading out the door, sitting down to pay the bills or trying to get through the newspaper. Like my father, I hesitate; my list of chores and responsibilities seems never-ending. But then I remember those golfing days with Dad. "Okay, son," I say. "Let's play."

Lord, help me to use my time to enrich the lives of those around me.

—Billy Newman