By: Jessie Yount
My nine-year-old’s two favorite words of late. It sounds innocent enough. It sounds like curiosity. He’s a kid; aren’t they all curious? In a world dictated by adults, perhaps he merely wants information.
“What time is it?” “What’s for dinner?” “Where are we going?” “Do I have to take a shower today?” “When do we have to go to bed?”
But this simple question is more than just a request to be informed. “Now what” comes out just seconds after finishing a meal or a game or a task. The question would be better rephrased as a statement, almost a demand.
“Give me something to do.”
How did we get here? How can a child be so frequently bored?
A part of me begs to blame it on oversaturation: too many toys, too much technology, too many organized activities. Time to bring out the ol’ “When I was your age, we didn’t have [insert name of trendiest new device here].”
But the other part of me must acknowledge that my kids are often content without those things. They can spend half a day climbing a tree and playing sword fights with dead branches. They enjoy gardening. They love to crawl around in the creek at the park. They wrestle and giggle and play with each other for hours, all things kids have been able to enjoy for generations without cords and without cost.
So, what’s to blame? Who’s to blame?
Is it society? Is it me?
I am a recovering Martha. Well, at least, I am an admitted Martha. I tend to be “worried and upset about many things.” (Luke 10: 38-42) For instance, when I know we are expecting company, I go into stealth cleaning mode and frantically ask myself if I’ve missed anything. What if they open the fridge? I’d better clean out the drawers and wipe down the shelves.
The same goes for preparing meals. Did I make enough spaghetti? What if I don’t have the kind of soda they like to drink? I’d better make another trip to the grocery store.
In my worries and busy-ness, am I modeling to my children a constant need to be doing something? Am I demonstrating now what moments to my kids?
Okay, so I haven’t spoken the words out loud, but that doesn’t declare me innocent. What do my now what moments look like?
Well, the first to pop into my mind is as recent as last week. My family met me after work and we headed to a buffet-style restaurant for dinner. Plate one was delicious and satisfying, but this is a buffet. Plate two beckons. What next? And after plate two (or three…they’re small plates) comes dessert. So many options. Now what?
The next moment that comes to mind is harder to admit. A few years back I committed to a bible-reading plan – the kind that gives you several different books to read from each day with the goal of reading through the entire bible in a year. It was great for me. Having those little boxes to check each day helped me measure both my progress and my dedication.
I made it through all twelve months (sometimes playing catch up as I was not always so committed) and expanded my knowledge of scripture. But when I checked off the last box, I thought “Now what?” I really did. And so a few months later, I decided to simply start over.
And here’s where the real problem is exposed.
I’m in a hurry. I’m stuck in a cycle of doing. I can’t be still.
When I finish something, a plate of food, a chore, a book (HIS book), do I pray about, or even think about, what to do next?
A second or third trip to the buffet probably won’t matter in eternity. Spending the extra time to clean the baseboards will likely go unnoticed by each of the other seven billion persons on the planet. My understanding of why animals that chewed the cud but didn’t have a split hoof were off-limits to the Israelites will not likely surface when I am called to account.
But I think it will matter whether or not my heart desires to understand His Word more clearly. I think it will matter how I read scripture. John J. Hughes wrote, “Studying the Bible with Jesus is life-changing. Studying the Bible without him is an exercise in intellectual pride.”
Whatever we do is to be to God’s glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Do I allow God’s word to penetrate my soul and my spirit? (Hebrews 4:12) If I am convicted by a passage of scripture or by a study, do I allow myself the time to be changed by it? Or do I simply turn the page, close the book, and ask, “now what”?
I don’t feel like my nine-year-old honors his parents when he says, “now what”. But I don’t honor our Father by thinking it either.
So let’s change the question. Let’s stop asking now what to others. Let’s ask ourselves. Now,…what can I do that will glorify my Father?