Anthony sprays the Windex on each table and wipes it down carefully. He is so thorough you might think he’s a little too careful. We’ve all seen how a busboy or waitress wipes off a table in a restaurant. It isn’t rocket science. Usually it’s done so fast it would make your head spin. Zip, swish, swash, swirl, your table is ready sir. But Anthony is taking his time. Each table matters to him. He’s seven. The tables in this restaurant belong to his father.
Many years ago I was mowing the grass with a push mower (not my favorite thing in the world) when my boy asked if he could help me. There are moments in parenting when you realize what you are about to say is really important. The haze clears momentarily and you understand what is happening here and now isn’t about here and now; it isn’t about getting the grass mowed. His request presented an immediate challenge. He was too short and not strong enough to push the mower so I couldn’t just show him how and get out of the way. And letting him watch or walk beside me was not going to satisfy him (he really wanted to help and was old enough to see through the fake things you can pawn off on little kids). What could I do? I told him to come on and help, and I put him in front of me. He grabbed the handle with his little hands and I got behind him and put my hands just outside his. We fired up the mower and mowed the grass. I wonder what that must have looked like. It was a bit awkward. We had to learn how to move together and not step on each other. I had to find the pace his shorter legs could handle. The whole mowing experience was uniquely affected by this arrangement. The results where the same. The grass was mowed. I completed the task I set out to complete and could have completed without my son. But something more than grass cutting was happening there. My son was learning something about me. He found out he could participate in my activity. He found out it was fun to be with me. He found out he was at least as important as what I was doing.
I think we should come to an appreciation of our Father’s work and our part in it. God is going to accomplish his work. He doesn’t need me to do it. He didn’t create me to do it. He invites me into it for one purpose – that I may learn of Him, that I may draw near to Him. Anybody knows one of the best ways to build a relationship with someone is to knock out a project together. To struggle through something together. Just ask Anthony. He isn’t cleaning tables so thoroughly to earn his bag of Skittles pay check. He is there to be near his dad. It is good to work in the Father’s house, but never start thinking you have to work to stay in the Father’s house.