by Marc Hays
Earlier this year I was sick. I slept most of a Saturday. On Sunday afternoon I tried to redeem some of the time by listening to a few lectures on my ipod. Shortly after beginning to listen, my six-year-old son, Seth, came into the bedroom and asked to lie down beside me. I told him that he could and rolled over on my side. He laid himself down behind me and began to rub my back. For the next three hours, Seth did nothing except spend time with me. He would periodically rub my back and ask if it felt good. Sometimes he would watch the clock countdown on the ipod and tell me how many minutes that I had left in a particular lecture. He didn’t need toys, books, or movies to keep him occupied, because he was completely occupied by simply being with me.
I remember reading once that Jonathan Edwards recommended using a time of illness as an opportunity for self-examination. This should come as no surprise; there weren’t many periods in one’s life that Edwards did not recommend as being appropriate times for self-examination. He said that one should not see the illness as a direct result of one’s sin, but wasting the time spent flat on your back would be foolish.
So there I lay–flat on my back, receiving the undivided attention of my son, examining myself, and realizing that I am much more like Martha than I am like Mary. I need purposes, goals, aspirations–something to “do” to show my love. Give me a schedule or a deadline, and I can prove that I mean business. But like Mary, Seth knows of a better way to show devotion. He can just sit at my feet, or lie beside me as it were, because he loves me. Where I am, is where he wants to be.
Paul told the Philippians that for him to remain in the flesh meant fruitful labor, but to depart and be with Christ was far better. When it comes to “fruitful labor”, I know how to keep a day jam-packed with profitable things, but Paul taught us that the better thing is “to be with Christ”. I don’t think I’ve begun to understand “being with Christ”. Maybe I can begin to see by remembering the guileless attention of my son, who paid his father the highest honor imaginable by simply wanting to be with him.