I was reading the Bible at the breakfast table to my children in my best effort to uphold the Tim Berrey tradition while he was away for the week teaching a CEP (Continuing Education for Pastors) class in Mindanao.
We were in the book of Revelation, and at first I had everyone's attention. (Dragons! Beasts! Trumpets!) But then something happened.
First David saw the toy zebras and wanted them. He is at that age of toddlership where children repeat the same thing over and over until you acknowledge that you heard it. "Zebra, Mommy? Zebra? Zebra?"
Then, just as I assured him that I had accurately interpreted his words (but that he needed to wait until we were done reading to play with the zebras) and began to read again, the toast popped up. Our toaster is uncertain how to go about its job. Sometimes the toast is white and sometimes it is black. We love it anyway, but we know we have to babysit it. So the kids were all telling each other to go check the toast. Finally we got that settled (perfect toast), and I began reading again.
And then. . .
Just as I was reading about how the accuser of the brethren is conquered by the blood of the Lamb, one of my boys saw his own revelation: a dead cockroach under the table. Actually, it wasn't dead. It was still in the lala land bugs go to when they end up on their backs. His legs and feelers were still waving, but he wasn't going anywhere.
The Word of God is far more important than that.
"We will take care of him later," I announced, mustering up my best Mommy voice. And we finished reading. Powerful passage. They forgot about the cockroach until I kept my promise and "took care" of him later. "Eeewww," my boys said, with evident enjoyment.
Zebras, toast, and cockroaches. They pull our attention away from the one needful thing. The most important part of the day. The thing without which we cannot spiritually survive in this world.
What takes your attention away from the Word of God?
The zebras were toys. There is nothing wrong with them. But they are not something to focus on, either. We adults have our own toys. (Hint: most of them are on our computer or cell phone.) Are they drawing our attention away from the Word of God?
The toast was breakfast. Food. A necessary thing. But even the necessities of life have their place. We cannot let them take precedence over our Word time. Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
The cockroach? Well, we all know what kinds of revolting, despicable things there are out there. (Some of those things show up in movie theaters around Valentines Day.) Don't play with them. Don't dirty your hands and your lives with them. Kill them. Practice radical amputation when you find them infesting your life. Cockroaches are scum-suckers. Bottom-feeders. Dead or alive, they are creepy-crawly disgustingness. It is better to enter heaven with one hand or one eye than to be cast out forever because that part of your body kept you from the Lord. Let's be as hasty to kill the moral scum in our lives as we are to kill the cockroaches under our tables.
Zebras, toast, and cockroaches.
It is a new day, a new week. A new start. Give the Lord the first part--the best part--of your day. When you read the Word, focus. Don't be distracted. My personal rule of thumb is that God gets my time and attention before I turn on my computer or open a book. Unless there is an emergency or an urgent need, nothing comes before my time with Him. It is a habit that has become a tremendous blessing to me.
And, if you have children, the best thing you can do for them today is to help them, also, to focus on the Word.
Zebras, toast, and cockroaches.
The Word of God is far more important than these things.
Tim and Laura
Timothy and Laura Berrey are missionaries with Gospel Fellowship Association. They share a passion for missions which has taken them to several countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe. They currently minister in the Philippines.
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