“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2.4 ESV).
My husband and I brought our kids to a large, local park, sprawled along the the gulf rim of our coastal town on an unseasonably warm winter’s day. It seems that our entire city had the same notion; and skateboarders, children and picnickers savored the sunlit landscape, playing and lounging upon the wide-lipped grassy valley. That day was a pleasant reprieve from our busy, cold holiday schedule; and I immersed myself in the special moment with my family.
We had come to this park many times, and my boys always watched with wonderment as the big kids skated and biked the dips and curves of the cement skatepark. Now, it was their turn to enjoy the concrete waves with their own bikes and feel the thrill of sliding down the smooth slopes. My husband stood as an audience of one in a crowd of many, clapping and cheering two boys that emulated his laughter and resembled his smile.
I rolled my four year old daughter’s bike to the long curvy sidewalk that skirted the shoreline. When we got to a safe point on the trail, I helped her climb unto the pink seat and placed her feet securely on the pedals. I have to admit that she looked so sweet sitting on her pink and purple bicycle, fitted with training wheels and sparkling with streamers. Her little princess helmet held safely to her head, and she gave me a determined, “Let’s go, Mommy!”
My daughter can ride her bike fairly well, since the training wheels keep her balanced, but she likes the feel of my hand on her back. My hand gives her a sense of security and lets her know that I am near. I took in the scenery as I nonchalantly followed my daughter down the winding path. I must have become distracted by all movement around me because my daughter’s bike hit a rocky patch, and she fell onto the grass lining the sidewalk.
She wasn’t hurt, but she was upset that I had let her fall. It took her a while to trust that my hand would catch her if she lost her balance again. I realized that I had allowed my hand to become a facade of safety; but in actuality, I wasn’t paying attention to my little girl riding her bike. I was lost in my own world of thoughts.
And I wonder how many times we miss the pain of those around us because we are so distracted. We are distracted by our own worries, by social media, by our busy schedules, by our ambitions and by our choices. We are lost in a world of me-centered living, and our hand of support is one of mere pretense. The truth is that our hands can’t reach the lives of everyone, but they can touch the souls that God has placed nearest to us.
I think the best antidote to our me-centered distractions is to be God-centered. God loves His children, and He longs to work through us to support those around us. When we focus on God, He will place the ones we can serve within arm’s reach. When we align our hearts with His, we will eventually gain a love that cannot be shaken or moved by the daily distractions of our lives. Then we will be better aware when someone enters a rocky patch and quicker to offer our hand of support when they fall.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Hebrews 6.10 NIV).