Who are the most important people in your life? "Why, my family, of course," you'd probably answer. "I would die for them!" That was my answer, too, but then I discovered that I was not dying for them, but killing them slowly through neglect. Through an event I'll never forget, God helped me learn that a father should never be too busy for his family.
It was the usual Tuesday morning with phone calls to make and appointments to keep. Then my wife reminded me that today was my daughter's big track meet, the final one of the season. "Oh, no!" I said. "I've been so busy, I forgot all about it. I have business today — I can't go." I reluctantly walked downstairs to break the news to my daughter. By the look in my eye she knew what I was going to say. Her eyes began to water. I apologized for forgetting, and encouraged her to do her best. I told her I would pray for her. The trouble was, I was the one who needed prayer. I was the one who needed encouragement to do the right thing — to really love my family. She said she understood, but her disappointment and hurt were obvious. She packed her books and headed for school. I also headed for "school" — God's school of spiritual lessons. First, self-justifying thoughts began racing through my mind: Surely she knows I love her! I've been there at other times. She knows I am a minister and must serve God's people. She will do just fine without me. But then my own voice from past sermons echoed: "Put your family first! If the family is to survive, fathers must make the family their No.1 priority! Dad is the most important person in a teenage girl's life." I was overwhelmed. In tears, I fell down on my knees and repented to God. I also thanked Him for refocusing my priorities toward my family. I got up and rearranged my appointments and, with great joy, looked forward to being with my daughter.
When I arrived at the track meet, I spotted my daughter standing across the field. She seemed a little down — she probably wondered why other people were more important to me. My mind flashed back to the times when I comforted her as a baby — how I would rock her in my arms. I thought about the times I comforted her as a toddler when she fell and bumped her head. I thought about now, when I would comfort her as a blossoming woman by being by her side. I called her name. Surprised, she looked up, her eyes met mine and our agony was turned into ecstasy. Now she knew I truly loved her. Now she was sure the family was indeed my No.1 priority. She did not win any gold medals that day, but she won first place in the heart of her dad, and that's better than gold. By the way, God's work was done that day. How, you ask? The great God commissions fathers to turn their hearts to their children (Malachi 4:6). Fathers, do God's work! Give your heart, your time and your life to your children. More than one other girl on my daughter's track team said: "Wow! Your dad must really love you. My dad was too busy to take time off to see me run." In spite of my initial blindness, God used that day to convey to students and teachers a foretaste of the deep bond of love all parents and children will share in tomorrow's world. Who are the most important people in your life? If it's your family, don't be too busy to love them. Give them your life — give them your time.