It only took one second.
My toddler was fussing to get out of the cart, and because I was close to being finished with our little shopping trip, I caved in to the pressure of a 3 year old and let her get out. Holding one little hand in mine while pushing the cart with the other is an exercise in balance and coordination.
I had one more stop for that one more thing, and I let go of her hand to scan a rack for my last item…
…and in one second, she was gone.
My temporary focus on something else turned into a dangerous distraction. Panic ensued and while calling her name, I searched the store frantically with the help of a sales associate. The minutes felt like hours as my sweet, oh-so-ornery toddler was found, grinning, while playing hide-and-seek right under the turn-style rack where it had all begun.
In that moment of sweet reunion, the raw emotions of joy and relief were mixed with the tears of fear and anger. Not angry at the not-so-innocent 3-year-old, but at myself for allowing it to happen.
“Do not be far from me, because distress is near and there is no one to help.” Psalm 22:11
While the first thing I did in my distress was to panic, I instinctively began to pray. Asking God to calm my spirit and give me a clear head to think, I knew that He was there to help me, to guide me, to think rationally, and to give me the wisdom I needed to take the right actions.
I learned a powerful lesson that day.
Of course, I learned a parenting lesson, but more importantly I learned a spiritual lesson.
Our Heavenly Father is on constant vigil. He sees. He knows. And He listens to our prayers, even waiting patiently when we are dangerously distracted–or we let go of His hand. He longs for us to come to Him.
“He did not hide His face from him but listened when he cried to Him for help.” Psalm 22:24
Distractions aren’t always obvious. That’s the problem. We might have good intentions and even set out on the right path, but it’s not uncommon for us in our fast-paced society to become easily pulled away from the things that really matter. Recognizing them for what they are–dangerous–if they lure us away from the things that matter most, and our relationship with God and the family He has blessed us with can unintentionally be neglected.
While it may sound simplistic–keeping your eyes on the One who created you is key to understanding–and living out His purpose for creating you.
I may not have a calling to be a great writer or speaker, but I am called to listen and learn from my Heavenly Father and to live it out on a daily basis. My children and grandchildren are precious gifts from God, and they are watching. They see what we focus on. They learn from our example, and they know when we are distracted. I want my heritage to be more than what I can give them–I want them to know me and to love me, but more importantly, I want them to know The Giver of every good and perfect gift.
“All who prosper on earth will eat and bow down; all those who go down to the dust will kneel before Him—even the one who cannot preserve his life. Their descendants will serve Him; the next generation will be told about the Lord. They will come and tell a people yet to be born about His righteousness—what He has done.” Psalm 22:29-31
[If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy reading Desperate Prayer