Two weeks ago, I blew it as a dad.
At Disney World.
Oh, I did all the vacation “dad jobs”: navigating security checkpoints with four kids and a stroller, changing diapers in airplane bathrooms, loading vans, hauling luggage, playing in the pool with my kids, you name it.
But I neglected something vital.
To make it worse, it’s something I’m constantly preaching to Kossuth parents.
On our way home after an exhausting week, Kay and I started comparing notes. Our trip had included fun times and not-so-fun times. The not-so-fun times were mostly due to the combination of two family members being sick most of the week plus the competing expectations of two parents, two grandparents, and four kids. But what bothered us most were the bad attitudes we had all exhibited throughout the vacation.
And that’s when it hit me: we had gone the entire week without reading the Bible or praying together as a family. Not even once. On top of that, I hadn’t spent any personal time in God’s word, either. I had been sure to pack my Bible and a family devotional book, but neither one ever left the suitcase. We had been so busy trying to enjoy “the happiest place on earth” that we disconnected from the source of real joy.
To borrow a phrase from the Visionary Parenting class, we had been functioning like a “Flintstone family.” If you are old enough to remember the good old days of Saturday morning cartoons, you may recall that the Flintstone family’s car had no engine. Instead, the passengers powered the car with their feet.
In contrast, God has provided a supernatural engine to power your family: his Spirit. And the way we “start” this engine—the way we access God’s power—is simply through reading his word and asking him for it. Without this engine, we are stuck trying to do family life on our own. It’s like pushing your car around town (or around Disney World) when you have a powerful engine under the hood.
I realized (too late) that I had done exactly that during our week in Florida. Instead of relying on God’s Spirit to power my wife and kids, I had been “pushing” them everywhere. I had been trying to make everything happen myself. No wonder we were exhausted! How much different would our attitudes have been if we had remembered to read the sermon passage for that Sunday: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2)? How might it have changed our interactions if we had prayed together, asking God’s Spirit to change our hearts, when we felt selfish or frustrated?
If you have a family vacation coming up this summer, I hope you learn from my mistake. Don’t just pack your Bible—read it! Make it a priority to read the Bible and pray together as a regular part of your vacation schedule, even when you take a vacation from the rest of your schedule. Let the power of God’s Spirit be the engine that drives your family. Trust me, it will make it so much easier to “count it all joy” when you encounter the various trials vacation is sure to bring.