A day before the parent-teacher meeting at a high school, a man quietly met his son’s class teacher to know how he was doing.
The teacher asked, “Are you not coming for the meeting tomorrow?” The man broke down in tears saying, “My wife and children have left me. I loved them so much. I worked fourteen hours a day for so many years to buy them all that I thought was needed for them; a beautiful house, a car, the best of clothes and jewellery for my wife among many other things. What I did not realise was that I never gave them the most important thing they really needed; my presence every day at dinner and my time for them. They left me because they did not get it.”
If we say we are too busy that we have no time for the family or for prayer, then we are not really busy because our priorities are misplaced and we are engaged in things less important than the family and the God who loves us. Our day can get so packed with work that we keep our loved ones and God himself in waiting.
God cannot speak to someone whose mind is too crowded and preoccupied, nor can there be heart-to-heart talks in the family if everyone is busy. We need to take time off to be with God and the family, to draw strength, inspiration and fulfillment in life.
Early in the morning, Jesus would often go off to a solitary place to have communion with God in prayer (Mark 1:35). He would draw strength from these quiet moments to carry himself through the day to teach, preach, heal and render consolation to the people he met.
Prophet Elijah heard God in the sound of the gentle wind. The Lord said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” “A great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire but after the fire the sound of a gentle wind.” It was in this that he heard the voice of God (I Kings 19:11-13).
During the Second World War, a young soldier stationed on Saipan Island on the Pacific Ocean recalled how, during his time-off, he would go with his friends for a swim in the waters between the rocky cliffs of the island. Before the swim, the waters were so clear that they could see the fish even 10 feet below but after the swim, the waters became so muddy that they could hardly see anything even one foot below. When they would return the next morning, the mud would settle down and the waters would once again be crystal clear.
Life too is like that. When we get too engaged in activity, we stir up our minds that we cannot discover clearly the joy of life. Do you spend quiet moments to listen to God and time-off to listen to your loved ones?