On Wednesday my dad turned 72 so I swung by his house that morning and we went to the golf course. I know this isn’t about me, but it was a par 72 course and I successfully shot his age.
On just 14 holes.
This week has been busier for me than most. My wife and I leave for Israel this coming Monday and as the point person on this trip for the 36 other travelers, it’s taken on a life of its own. Mix in everything you try to get done with work and around the house before you’re gone for 10 days and, well, this whole week I’ve felt like I’ve had more to do than I can get done.
Playing golf with my dad is one of my favorite things to do. Living in the same city for the first time in 15 years affords us the opportunity to play golf together every month or so. However, I know these opportunities and moments to spend with him on the golf course will come to an end way before I’m ready for them to. Because of that, unless it’s completely out of my control, I never want to pass up a chance to go play golf with him. Work and things to do around the house will be there that evening, and the next day, and the following day. That stuff can wait.
I’m definitely not advocating slacking at work. When I work, I work hard. But I also want to keep the right perspective on life and take full advantage of the most important things. If, for some awful reason, that was the last time I was able to play golf with my dad, I would have no regrets. If I had turned down this opportunity so I could get a few more hours of work in, I’d live with remorse the rest of my life and always be longing to get just one more round in with him.
John Eldridge wrote, “The most revealing aspect of anyone’s character is how he handles people. The way a person handles others is the acid test of his true nature. How is Jesus with people? What’s he like to be around?”
Reading through the four gospels, Jesus’ time in ministry was constantly interrupted by people. Wherever he went he would undoubtedly be interrupted by someone who sought something from him. And of course he would stop what he was doing and minister to the person. As someone who is highly task driven, pausing for personal interaction has never been a strength of mine. But if I want to be like Christ I have to not only allow, but also welcome, those times where I need to stop what I’m doing and invest in the person who is needing my attention, whether it’s my wife, kids, parents, neighbor, friend, whomever.
Relationships are what matter. Don’t let work or your house to-do list or a tv show or your favorite sports team playing on tv, keep you from engaging with and spending time with the most important people in your life.
Harry Chapin wrote a song in 1974 that drives this point home. Here are a few lyrics:
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and there were bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away.
When my son turned ten just the other day
Said, “Thanks for the ball, dad, come on and let’s play
Can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today
I got a lot to do” he said, “That’s okay”.
Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head and he said with a smile:
“What I’d really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later
Can I have them please?”
Well, I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time”
“You see, my new job’s a hassle and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.
Trust me, that stuff can wait.