“Dad,” Jim asked, math assignment and pencil in hand, “is this a good time?”
“Sure, Son,” he replied, “I just got to a stopping place. Come on in.” James closed his laptop and leaned his forearms on the desk looking at his son with anticipation. “What cha got?” he queried.
“Math,” Jim slurred, rolling his eyes. He stepped up to the desk and surrendered the homework with a thump and a frown.
James picked up the paper and looked it over. “It looks like you’re having some trouble with long division,” he commented. “Come around here,” he called his son to his side to review the problems, “and let’s figure it out together.”
Jim stood beside his dad while he evaluated the first problem.
As his dad examined the problem, for the first time Jim took serious notice of the boasting contents in the large glass door armoire across the room.
“Pay attention, now,” his dad instructed him, reaching over to turn on the small desk lamp in front of them.
“Dad,” Jim asked, “Are all those yours?” James broke his train of thought and eyed the multitude of trophies lining the shelves.
“They sure are,” he answered his son, eyeing them with reflection.
“How old were you when you got them?” Jim asked.
“Well,” he began, taking a deep breath and tapping the pencil’s eraser on the desk, “let’s see.” He made eye contact with Jim then pondered the trophies thinking out loud, “Some were from middle school, some high school and the rest from college.”
“Did you have to try real hard to get them?”
“I tried as hard as I could for some,” he explained, “Others I got for just participating.”
“Are you proud of them, Dad?”
“I suppose,” he began, “but I earned those many years ago.”
Recollections of his youth flashed through James’ mind: fighting for goals, baskets, and touch downs, relishing the thrill of competition. And recognition. “But I was different then,” he explained.
“What do you mean?” Jim asked, concentrating on his dad’s words.
“When I was younger, Jim, I thought what I did was so important,” his dad expounded. “I lived like I was the most important person in the world.” Jim listened quietly in the lamp light. “I wanted everyone to notice me and be impressed with me,” he continued pensively. Jim noticed his dad’s regretful countenance.
“Are you sorry you were like that?” his son asked him. Memories now foreign to James’ character flooded his transformed mind.
“I am,” he answered amidst a sea of memories. “But we all have to start somewhere.”
“Do you not like your trophies anymore, Dad?”
“Oh, they’re okay,” he explained, “but not so important anymore.” He nodded his head slightly.
“What’s important to you now, Dad?” Jim inquired, ready for impression. James smiled and put his hand on Jim’s shoulder, holding his son’s eyes in his.
“You are, son,” he said, “You and Mom are most important.” Jim smiled, and reached both arms around his dad’s neck.
“You’re important to me, too, Dad,” Jim replied holding back emotion as his dad drew him even closer. Jim relished his dad’s embrace, soaking in his generous strength and comfort.
“It’s real simple,” James explained, “to just please God.”
He waited for Jim let go first.
“When you do,” James reflected, “everything works out.” Jim listened.
“I know it won’t take you forty years,” James winked pointing pistol style at his son, “to figure that out.” Jim laughed. “Now,” he said, “let’s get back to that division.”
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.
for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Be devoted to one another in love.