Ken and I stopped to get a sandwich the other day, and were waiting in line to order when I noticed a man with his daughter. The girl looked to be about 14 or 15, and had just returned to her dad’s table after filling her drink.
The man smiled kindly and said, “Shall we pray?” and she nodded. Then, he respectfully bowed his head, closed his eyes, and gave thanks to the Lord for their food. But the girl spent the entire prayer with her eyes open, looking around. She looked out the window. She looked at the people in line. She looked at her fingernails. She seemed to have total disregard for her father’s prayer–or possibly his God.
All of this was curious to me, and I continued watching them. For the next ten minutes or so, nothing was said. They both ate their food in comfortable silence. The man would look down at his sandwich, take a bite, and then look ‘through’ his daughter, who was seated across from him, as he chewed. She did the same thing. It seemed to be their custom.
Now, I’m making plenty of assumptions here based on ten random minutes and an open-eyed prayer, but I had to wonder. Does this girl have any interest in God–in who he is and what he has designed her to be? Does she want to know her father’s Lord personally? And if not, why is that? Could it be that she doesn’t even really know her dad?
What if her dad looked at her instead of through her during this meal–and all the rest of the meals he shared with her? What if he asked her about her hopes and dreams, and wanted to share his with her? What if, instead of being comfortable with silence, they were comfortable with real conversation–ten minutes at a time? Would that change her interest in her dad’s God?
As I peered into a small sample of this parent/child relationship, I considered my relationship with my own kids. I have a chance to influence how three precious kids see God and themselves and life. And this may happen partly when I take them to church or do a Bible study with them. But mostly, I think it happens during a meal. Or a car ride. Or a snack in the kitchen.
It happens ten minutes at a time.