Episode 1. Distractions
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With all the entrainment options and gizmos available to us these days – there are so many distractions. Things that stop us from interacting and doing the things we need to do to build a godly …
With all the entrainment options and gizmos available to us these days – there are so many distractions. Things that stop us from interacting and doing the things that we need to do to build a godly family.
I remember with great delight the days that I used to come home from school in my younger years. I was allowed to watch an hour, maybe an hour-and-a-half of TV. It was a great big hulking black and white model that sat in the corner of our lounge room. I used to watch Gilligan’s Island and Mighty Mouse, and later on Batman.
Our time in front of this tube was strictly limited by our parents. They didn’t want us getting square eyes. And then it was out to play with the other kids in the neighbourhood, and then in to do our homework. Help with setting the table, cooking the dinner and certainly helping with clearing up and washing the dishes. It was those times, washing the dishes and drying them up, that my sister and I used to sing songs.
When it came to being a family it seemed that there were fewer distractions back then. Oh sure, my parents had to work hard and they had busy lives but there wasn’t any internet. There weren’t dozens of cable TV channels. We only had one TV set not three or four as many homes do today. There were just fewer distractions … distractions from, well, I guess from being a family. Things were never perfect but there seemed to be much more time to interact. More time to do things.
I hope you won’t mind indulging in my little bit of nostalgia. Maybe looking at it through rose coloured glasses you think. Maybe each time and each age and each generation has it’s challenges in being a family. But today’s entertainment options are so prolific. I mean, cable TV with more shows and programs than you could ever watch and a lot of it, I have to tell you, is rubbish.
The internet … and so many people spend hours and hours in front of the internet; mobile phones with their SMS and texting and now there’s the unlimited talk plan so you can fry your brain even longer; and so many movies. Lot’s of them. I remember when I was a kid there were two or three movies on at any one time. Now there’s dozens of movies on at any one time down at the picture theatre.
And of course we all have cars. We can go anywhere, do anything anytime. Run the kids here, run the kids there. The world is kind of a whole bunch different. And I’m not suggesting we wind back the clock. You can never do that. I’m simply making the point that we live in a different world these days. A world where there’s so many distractions; so many seemingly very good things, entertaining things; razza matazy things; glitzy, attractive things.
After a hard day at work or at school all we want to do is we each want to retreat into our virtual cocoons to be entertained. To have ‘stuff’ dished up to us. And then of course there’s take away food, there’s the microwave oven, the dishwasher; a lot of the menial things that people used to do together as a family; times to talk and to laugh and to share and to get to know each other. They’re disappearing.
There are more bedrooms, bigger houses, more living areas. We’re more isolated than we ever used to be. Not everywhere but in much of the world, this is what people aspire to. And you stand back from that and you have to come to the conclusion that families are under incredible pressure.
We’re talking this week, on the program, again about building a godly family. Well this whole pressure of distractions is something we need to think about because, by definition a family is a unit, a team. A group that functions and grows and develops by virtue of the fact that the younger and the older members of the family communicate and interact in their lives.
Ever thought about that? A family is the closest interaction in life because we share the basics of living. Eating, sleeping, cooking, cleaning. This kind of place where people should be loved should be nurtured and should be protected. And along comes all these distractions, pretty things. They start to drive wedges between the members of the family because they rob us of time – time together, time to be a family, time to talk and to listen.
I’m someone who really needs to hear this too. I don’t know about you but as I said last week on the program I’m very happy with my own company. It’s the easiest thing in the world for me to retreat into the bedroom and watch a re-run of one of my favourite TV series. Or skip meals and work through. So many families don’t even have a meal together anymore. Not even once a week. Why? Because there are so many options. Meals have ceased to be times of table fellowship and they’re all about shoving food down the hole and getting going with the next thing.
God though places a high premium on our families. And again, as we saw last week and we’ll be looking again in more detail next week, the Ten Commandments. Of those the first four are about God and us and the very next one, the fifth one, is:
Honour your father and your mother so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. (Exodus chapter 20, verse 12)
And wives and husbands, in Ephesians chapter 5 God says:
Wives be subject to your husbands. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her.
God places a massive premium on the family because family was His idea in the first place. I mean Adam/Eve. From there came the beautiful gift of oneness and intimacy. And then out of that beautiful, intimate embrace came the gift of children. Ever figured out this plan, how beautiful it is for bringing children into the world.
And there you have it, you see, there you have the plan, the plan for family; God’s plan for those who are made in His image to live in community and family.
So many people hear that and they listen to that and they feel so ashamed. They feel so inadequate. “Well maybe that is God’s plan but look at the mess my family’s in.’ Well you’re not the only one. I mean Adam and Eve had two children, Cain and Abel, and they had the same problem. One son murders the other one. I mean talk about a dysfunctional family. Here is the first family and they were so dysfunctional because dysfunction happens when we turn our backs on God. And that’s exactly what Adam and Eve did.
And yes, we do have a whole bunch of distractions these days. And distractions bring dysfunction. Let me say that again. They drive little wedges into the family. So distractions bring dysfunction. And the whole point of a wedge, if you pardon the pun, is you start with the pointy end and you drive it in deeper and deeper and it pulls two people apart more and more. That’s what happens. Just think about it.
I don’t know what your family looks like but we do have more than one television in the house. And it’s very easy for everybody to go into a different room and watch a different television and just have a quick meal and barely say a word to one another. The temptation is there.
Now, there’s a simple solution. There’s something we can do right now, today, this very minute. We can start figuring out some clever creative ways of spending time together despite the distractions. We can talk with our kids in the car when we’re running them somewhere. We can actually turn the TV off over dinner. We can start an interesting conversation over food. We can share something that happened in our day. We can plan some family things that involve the kids and their friends too so their friends go home and say ‘wow that was cool’. Something that’s fun; an alternative to TV.
There are so many creative things that we can do. You know something, we can make them fun. We can bake biscuits with the kids on a wet, cold, rainy Sunday afternoon. We can involve them in cooking the soup in chopping up and peeling the veggies.
We can inject, we CAN inject some old fashioned fun into the mix. Okay, they might complain to start with but as we develop these new habits, as we get to know something new, you know what, these kids are going to look back on those simple pleasures in years to come. And that’s what’s going to stick in their memory when we just spend the time.