Apparently, my children didn't get the memo.
In the short span of a half-hour, they managed to pee their underpants, dump out every single lego, fall down the stairs, rip a few pages from the library books, and throw up on the couch. Their stubbornness hit an all-time low and their need for training and redirection tripled.
So much for the hors d'oeuvre tray.
Sometimes, I feel like they know. They know when I'm feeling the pressure of the clock or the to-do list. They know when I need the least number of distractions -- and that's when they offer me the most.
Maybe it's just imagined. My emotions are high, the pressure is on, and so it seems like the interruptions, are harder and more plentiful than normal.
Or maybe it's not imagined. Maybe messes and needs do increase. My kids might not know, but someone else sure does. And he will do whatever it takes to ensure that I stumble.
1 Peter 5:8 tells us:
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith (ESV).
You have an Enemy. And it's not your child, or your spouse, or whoever else is getting in the way of your to-do list.
It's the devil himself, and he's prowling around, waiting to pounce and devour.
And here's the crazy part -- Peter's warning wasn't written primarily for those facing extreme persecution or sexual temptation. Peter's warning is written to church leaders, responsible for caring for their flock.
Ironic, isn't it?
This warning comes right in the middle of an exhortation to care for those entrusted to you.
Your relationships with others -- specifically those under your care -- will always be a source of vulnerability and temptation. You will regularly need to choose between loving your flock, and loving lesser things, like hors d'oeuvres, being on time, having a clean home, or feeling appreciated. And while it's often possible to have both, are you tempted to despise or ignore your children's needs when something lesser is on the line?
The pressures of parenting and loving others will feel greater when you have something else to attend to. But amazingly, they are actually opportunities to love more effectively. Imagine -- in the midst of busyness, interruptions, and needs -- speaking these words to the ones you love:
It's ok that we're running late -- you're more valuable than being on time.
I know that it was an accident -- I love you more than I loved that vase.
Yes, I just washed those clothes, but I'm so thankful you enjoyed your time playing outside.
I don't mind if dinner gets cold, it's more important that we talk about this now.
Resist the devil.
Know your weaknesses.
Be mindful when things feel "urgent" above all else.
Remember your primary calling.
Pursue and love wholeheartedly the little flock that has been given to you, especially when it means giving up the lesser things.