by Josiah Travis
I am absolutely in love with my son Isaiah. He is one of the most amazing and gifted human beings on the planet. (Rest assured that my opinion is completely unbiased.) He is a treasure and I get to be his dad! Isaiah is almost eight years old now and he has an amazing intensity about him. Some years back, after a temper tantrum that could have brought the house down, he said with seriousness: "Daddy, maybe someday I could be in charge of the whole planet." I think that was probably a genuine aspiration of his four-year-old heart. At times it was challenging to parent a boy who aspired to rule the planet, but the strong will inside this boy blesses me and gives me reason to dream about what his future might hold.
A few years back, my bold son began calling me out whenever I am not fully present with him. (I don't know if other parents would admit this, but sometimes when I am with Isaiah I am not actually with him.) I am there in body and superficially there with my words, but I’m not really there. Isaiah will show me a masterpiece of a lego creation and I'll say things like "That's great buddy. Wow, yea, look at that.” The words might be correct but my tone of voice gives away the fact that my mind is elsewhere.
So Isaiah, my bold son, yanks me back into the present moment saying,”No, Daddy, say it like you mean it!” In other words, “I can tell if your gaze is not actually on me. Don’t try to fool me. Don't pretend like you are here when you are actually missing out on all of this.”
“Say it like you mean it!”
I’m so glad that Isaiah won’t let me remain distracted! He calls me into the present moment, and he tells me what his young heart needs. He needs me to see him, to be present with him, to enjoy him.
I think we can all identify with Isaiah. Something tells us that we were not supposed to be playing in the sandbox of our lives by ourselves. We long to experience a Father's delight, his words of affirmation, a sense of his presence with us, to stare into his face and hear him saying "Wow! You're amazing. That is so cool!" Yet often times we feel like God is distracted, or worse, completely disinterested in us.
Isaiah is bold enough and still young enough to unashamedly voice a cry that I think abides in all of us—its a cry for our Father’s loving gaze and affirmation.
While I am, at times, a distracted Father that needs to be called back into the present moment by my son, your heavenly Father is never distracted. He abides eternally in the present moment. His gaze is upon you. He crossed the universe to bring you to himself.
Maybe knowing all of that still leaves you feeling distant and alone. One thing I know is this, your Father loves to hear your voice. I invite you to join Isaiah in saying, “Dad, I need to know you’re with me. I need you to convince me that you enjoy me. Daddy, I need to hear you say it like you mean it!”