Thursday, June 28, 2012

Children, Eye Drops and Relating to God


Have you ever tried to give eye drops to a five year old? This is one of those adventures parents sometimes endure, the type that can make you doubt your ability to care of your children. Those dreaded eye drops recently were a part of our daily routine, an unwanted addition that started when my youngest came home with pink eye.

I knew I was in trouble when I picked my son up from school. His eye was noticeably red with gross yellowy eye snot beginning to form. The teacher said his eye began to redden towards the end of the day, getting worse until it began to run just before dismissal. Instantly I knew we were in for a trip to the pediatrician and perhaps a side trip to the pharmacy. Of course as a parent you always hope for the best. I prayed it might clear on its own by morning but God chose another path. For the next several days I had to give my son eye drops three times a day in each eye.

I have a tough time putting eye drops in my own eyes. In fact I never use them, and I suspect I did not engender much confidence as I tried to convince my son to do something I myself avoid. His response to the first treatment was what I would naturally expect from a young child. He sat still, allowing me to hold his eyelids open but as I raised the bottle over the eye he began twisting a flailing his arms as if defending himself from an attacker. I wound up having to hold him in my lap while my wife put the drops in his eyes.

Eventually we were able to make a game of it, learning to laugh at the occasional drop that wound up on his nose instead of in his eye; the result of a sudden flinch by an energetic rug rat. To be honest it would have been easy to give up after the first attempt rather than struggle to get those drops in his eyes but as a parent I knew this was best. I did not give in to my son’s resistance and the payoff was immediate. By the morning of the second full day of treatment his eyes were pretty much clear.

I have lost count of the times when I struggled against the Lord’s call. When God asks me to do something that does not make sense to me or with which I am uncomfortable I often find myself taking up a defensive posture, trying my best to convince God to choose another path. Fortunately God never gives up, patiently responding as a loving Father doing what is best for His child.

One day we will see the full picture, understanding why God takes us out of our comfort zones in order to prepare us for His Kingdom. For now each of His children must learn to trust in Him, growing in faith with each challenge.

How about you? Like a child torn between trusting a parent and the fear of something uncomfortable, do you resist God’s perfect will for your life?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Child’s Applause, The Best Part of a Road Trip


“Are we there yet?” I suppose every parent has heard this well worn question, seemingly a requirement of every road trip. I have definitely heard it a fair amount of times, learning not to become annoyed at this challenge. And yes it is a challenge, a call to which I think every dad responds, whether he realizes it or not. The challenge to make the trip interesting, to give something worthy of the many hours spent playing the punch bug game in the back seat of a car, minivan or suv.

This past weekend we took a road trip during which I initially thought I had failed to deliver on the promise of keeping things interesting. Our two hour trek took us to Baltimore where, as part of the anniversary of the war of 1812 (has it really been 200 years) the city took part in OpSail while hosting for the first time an air show over the Inner Harbor. I had everything planned out. Of course nothing went as planned.

OpSail (short for Operation Sail) is an international celebration of tall sailing ships. The ships sail into a city, offering free public tours and opportunities to share in the different cultures of people from many different nations. OpSail was in Baltimore for about a week and I thought it a nice end of school year trip for my boys to see this unusual collection and their crews. However the crowds were so big that we did not get the opportunity to actually board any of the vessels.

The crowds were also too big for us to get a good spot for the air show that was part of the Baltimore festivities. And so we decided to do something a little different. Having seen air shows in the past we thought we would go to the airport where the planes were taking off and landing in preparation for the show. I must say the sound of a group of F-18’s warming their engines during their preflight checks is nothing short of amazing, a symphony of sorts for those who are interested in planes. While watching the take jets take off my oldest son declared his intention of one day flying a fighter; that is if his first dream of playing in the NFL does not work out.

Because of logistical problems at the airport (they were not ready for such big crowds) it took us a lot longer to get back to our car. What I saw as a delay was a blessing, God orchestrating something that made the trip worth the effort. You see as we rode on the shuttle to the parking lot the Blue Angels returned from the air show. We had seen them take off earlier and had not planned to be around for their return. But there they were flying in formation on a line that would take them right over our shuttle. They broke formation just as they passed over top. My youngest son watched as they turned toward the runway, one giving us a great view of its top as the plane banked in the turn. Without any prompting my youngest son began to clap, the only one on the bus doing so, showing his appreciation of the pilot’s skill.

Watching my son applaud the Blue Angels made the trip worth the effort. Nothing that day had gone as I had planned but I know seeing that blue and yellow plane will endure as one of those unforgettable moments in my son’s life. Yes I enjoyed seeing the jets and the tall ships but it was the applause of a small child that became the best part of a great road trip. It was at that point that I knew I had succeeded in meeting the challenge posed in the question, “Are we there yet?”

{BTW - OpSail will make two more stops in the U.S. this year, Boston on June 30th and new London on July 6th}

Monday, June 18, 2012

International Prayer: June 18th, 2012


According to icasualties.org the United States has lost 148 solders in the war in Afghanistan so far this year. In the first 155 days of 2012 154 U.S. solders have committed suicide, according to the Battleland blog at Time.com. Having never worn the uniform I will not begin to try and explain the pressure our solders are under as they serve the nation. This suicide rate is too high, percentage wise exceeding that of the civilian population. Clearly this is a reminder of the need for God’s children to pray for those who serve in the armed forces.

Let us also pray for:

Egypt – The political landscape has taken a number of twists and turns over the last few days. Just last Thursday a court ruling dissolved the newly elected lower house of parliament just days before presidential elections which were held this past weekend. The winner of the election finds his power limited by a constitutional decree from the military government currently in charge. The military says they will allow the newly elected president to take control at the end of the month but reserves the right to step in if the president and parliament are unable to draft a new constitution. Please continue in prayer as this saga is far from over.

Syria – Pray for the people of Syria as violence continues with fighting between government forces and rebels.

Spain and Greece – Following another round of elections, Greece will now try to move forward dealing with its financial problems. Meanwhile Spain saw its bond status lowered, increasing the borrowing costs for a nation already in financial crisis. Pray for the governments of these nations as they try to solve their economic problems.

U.S. – The United States saw an increase in home foreclosure rates in the month of May. Pray for those who face the possibility of losing their homes as well as those who are still seeking jobs.

Across the seas or across the fence, we find neighbors who are facing hardship. Pray and remember to make yourself available in case God wants to use you to help someone else.

Friday, June 01, 2012

International Prayer: June 1st, 2012


They were on their way home from work. Twelve men were taking a bus from a factory after earning a day’s wages. The government checkpoint was normal. What happened about 300 meters down the road was not. Join as we stand in prayer for:

Syria – The bus carrying the twelve men was hijacked shortly after passing the government checkpoint. They were robbed and shot one by one. These killings come less than a week after the massacre of villagers from the town of Houla. Please continue in prayer for Syria where the violence is getting worse.

Italy – The government has set June 4th as a day of mourning following an earthquake this past Tuesday, the second in less than a month. Please pray for the survivors as they work to rebuild. Pray also for provision of funds and supplies needed for the recovery effort.

Yemen – Imagine an area where 30 percent of the children are suffering from malnutrition. According to The Australian, this is the case in Yemen. Adding to the problem is a series of attacks, aimed at Yemen’s new government. Please pray for a solution to the food crisis in Yemen.

United States – It is not likely a bill banning sex-selection abortions will make it out of Congress. Without comment on the merits of the bill, please pray for those contemplating having an abortion because they are unhappy about the child’s gender.

More than ever our world needs Christians to devote ourselves to prayer. We may not always agree with the actions of our neighbors but we are called to love them anyway. As such we should continue to stand in prayer, lifting our neighbors up in humility and with faith in our God.

Have a nice weekend and remember to pray continually.