At attention: In pursuit of a common thread
I plopped on the matted floor and quickly turned my attention to the toddler. It had been years since I was on the floor of a nursery and I almost felt like a kid again. Moment earlier, I slipped into the nursery to give Dad a chance to return to the worship center to hear Mom share during a panel discussion on “What My Life with God Looks Like.”
So there I was, seated on the floor as young Titus tried to decide which color of Duplo blocks tasted the best. He seemed to favor the purple ones. My own inner child emerged as I began to build a leaning tower.
As happens with 11-month-olds, it wasn’t long before Titus lost interest. He crawled over to a pudgy truck parked on the ground, alternating between rolling it in the floor and on his tongue. He soon abandoned that endeavor as he scooted over to the play kitchen, sampling various fruits and burgers before tossing them on the floor. But those, too, lost their lure as he shimmied on his belly to the one corner of the room devoid of color, shapes and textiles—save a small carpet thread he yanked on with vigor.
I joined Titus at the corner, gently swooped him up and carried him back to the toy kingdom on the other side of the room. Within minutes he was back at the wall pulling at the thread. I followed him again, returning him to the matted area. The dance routine repeated a half dozen times or so.
A familiar complaint of parents ricocheted in my brain: We buy our kids pricey and trendy toys only to find them fixated on the empty box. My smile widened. Eventually the service ended and I handed Titus off to Dad, my back muscles and nerves still in peaceful harmony.
Days later, I was still wondering how different our lives—and legacy—would be if we could maintain that type of spiritual focus. It is so easy to be distracted by cars, food, and things we can build. It makes sense. We need all three to exist. But how many times do they become our primary focus? Why are we so frequently distracted by immaterial things?
In his quest for discovery, Titus was willing to turn his back on the known—the toys—to pursue something unknown and, by the world’s standards, worthless. We forget sometimes that the prize is not always something shiny. Sometimes it’s the journey.
As Paul reminds us in Philippians 3:13-16:
“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (Philippians 3:13-15)