"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time." Ephesians 5:15,16
Driving home one night after work, I switched on the radio to catch the news. In a moment of uncharacteristic sincerity, the announcer made a statement that sliced through my fog of fatigue: "I hope you did something of value today. You wasted a whole day if you didn't."
His statement struck me abruptly. Fortunately, I felt pretty good about how I had invested my time that day, solving some of the problems of a swiftly growing organization. But in 10 minutes I would be home where one lovely lady and six pairs of little eyes would need my attention.
Would I do something of value with them tonight?
It's just one night, I thought, and besides, I'm exhausted. Then I pondered how one night followed by another, 365 times, adds up to a year. The nights and years seemed to be passing with increasing velocity.
Five more minutes and I'd be home.
I'll bet there are other men like me who are really tired right now. I'll bet I do better than average with my kids, I smugly concluded.
But another question came to mind and lingered: Did God call me to be merely a better-than-average husband and father? Or to be obedient and to excel?
But it's just one night. What would I accomplish? Would I waste it spending all evening in front of the television? Or invest it in planting the seeds of a positive legacy?
I wanted just one evening of selfishness-to do my own thing. But what if Barbara had a similar attitude? Then who would carry the baton?
One more minute and I'd be home.
Just one night, Lord. It's just one night. But then the same angel who wrestled Jacob to the ground pinned me with a half nelson as I drove into the garage.
Okay, Lord, You've got me.
As the kids surrounded my car like a band of whooping Indians, screaming, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy," I was glad on this night I had made the right choice.
At supper, rather than just grazing our way through the meal, we spent a few moments on nostalgia. Each of us answered the question: What was your favorite thing we did as a family this past year?
After supper I gave the kids three choices of what we would do: Play Monopoly together, read a good book together or wrestle together on the living room floor. Which do you think they chose?
Three little sumo wrestlers grabbed my legs as they began to drag me into the living room. Dad was pinned by the kids. Mom was tickled by Dad. And kids went flying through the air (literally) for the next hour. Even our 10-month-old got into the act by pouncing on me after she had observed the other kids in action.
Will the kids remember? Maybe, but I doubt it.
Did I waste the evening? No. With the power that God supplies, I did my best to leave a legacy that counts-a legacy of love that will outlive me. I was reminded of two things. First, I thought of Paul's words in Ephesians 5, in which he reminded us to make the most of our time and to "not be foolish."
Second, I remembered my dad. He was badgered by one determined boy into playing catch over and over again. I can still remember his well-worn mitt and curve ball.
If you struggle with priorities as I do, you might want to commit to memory those verses in Ephesians. The "fool" Paul wrote about is something we never intend to become; it just happens-one day at a time.
I hope you did something of value today. And I hope you will tonight as well.
Excerpted from Moments Together for Couples by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. Used with permission. Copyright 1995 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey. All rights reserved.
About the author: Dennis Rainey is the executive director of FamilyLife, an organization founded in 1976 with the goal of effectively developing godly families, one home at a time. Parents of six children, Dennis and his wife, Barbara, have written numerous books, including best-sellers Moments Together for Couples and The Questions Book for Marriage Intimacy.