Is It God or Me?
“Lights out!” Exclaimed my sister, flicking the light switch off and jumping into her bunk below mine.
I slammed my opened book face down on my pillow and slid down the side of my
“I am still reading,” I said hotly, stomping over to the light switch.
My sister looked at me and said carefully, “Well, I’m tired and we have school
tomorrow. Finish your book later.”
I reached over and grabbed my book off my pillow.
“Just let me finish this chapter, alright?”
I squatted down on the floor and leaned against the wall below the light switch, as if to guard it.
My sister glared at me and pulled the pillow over her head.
I finished my chapter and sighed heavily as I turned off the light and climbed into bed. I laid there in the dark staring at the shadows the moon played across my bedroom wall. I thought hard.
I knew I should say my bedtime prayers, but I felt ashamed. I felt guilty for staying up so late to read my book when I could’ve been having my devotions with God. I was too tired to even read a Psalm or Proverbs.
I was too tired? That was my excuse? Honestly? My books are more important to me than reading God’s word.
I punched my pillow in disgust and rolled over and closed my eyes. The shadows had begun to look as though they were dancing in laughter at me.
For months I continued my life of seclusion in a world of fantasy. Every time mom would take us to the library, which I pleaded to go every week, I would stockpile as many books as I could check out. I usually started on them the minute we got in the car for the ride home. I didn’t like to put a book down once I got started, so I usually grumbled and complained whenever mom interrupted me with a chore or our nightly devotions. I would read late unto the night, sometimes till my book was finished.
I was having my usual lazy afternoon, sprawled on the floor with pillows and my book. I paused to take a break for a drink of water. Something caught my eye as I passed the back door to the kitchen. I stepped back. I gasped and stood stunned at what I saw.
“Mom!” I wailed. I stood in shock watching my dad’s three- foot submarine model completely engulfed in flames. My dad was standing beside it, arms folded, intently staring into the fire.
“Mom!” I yelled loudly. “What is dad doing?” I asked despairingly, as she came to the door. “Is he crazy or something?” I could feel my eyes smarting and a lump coming up in my throat.
Mom was shaking her head. “You know how he’s been struggling with having to spend so much time on his model to finish it. He’s doing what he thinks he should do with it.”
Mom sighed and began unloading the dishwasher.
“So he’s got to burn the thing?” I questioned sarcastically. “What about all the time and hard work he’s put into it?
“Your father just wants to prove that his submarine doesn’t mean more to him than God.”
I shook my head and walked to my room slamming the door behind me. I was angry. Why did my Dad feel he had to go and do something so drastic? It was just a hobby that he liked to do. My dad worked hard all the time. Didn’t he deserve to enjoy something he liked now and then?
I tried to finish my book, but I kept seeing my dad standing there watching his submarine burn. I knew my dad had a fascination for subs, but I also knew he didn’t love them more than God.
It really began to bother me. I couldn’t sleep that night. I subconsciously realized that if anyone needed to be burning things, it was me. I did put my books before God. I was constantly making the decision to finish my book before bed rather than to read God’s Word and pray.
My dad walked into my room a week later, and found me sitting in front of my bookshelf with a trash bag full of my books. He looked at the three books left on the shelf in surprise.
“What are you doing?” He asked, pulling out my desk chair and sitting down.
I bit my lip, staring down at my full trash bag. I didn’t know what to say at first. I didn’t want to tell him that I saw him burning his sub and make it sound like it was his fault I was getting rid of all my books.
“Are you giving your books away?” My dad asked quietly.
I shrugged. “I was just going to throw them away.”
There was a moment of silence before I finally looked up at him. “I -I ‘ve been spending a lot of my time reading. I read all the time. Duh!” I chuckled a little.
My dad smiled.
“I read too much. I mean, Mom told me about your submarine, and I realized that I was putting my books before God. My devotions and our family time interrupted MY reading.”
“So you feel you need to just throw them all away so you can put God first now, right?” My dad asked.
I nodded. “Basically, yeah. Dad, I told God every night after I stayed up late to read my books that I was sorry, and that I would do my devotions next time. Almost every night! Obviously I didn’t mean that because I kept doing it. I want God to know that I’m serious now, and I will put Him first and concentrate on my devotions.”
My dad leaned forward in the chair, looking at me. “You know, honey, it’s commendable of you to want to put God first. It’s especially refreshing to see that in a young person’s life.” My dad paused, looking down at his hands. “I want to share with
you something I’ve learned lately. God knows our hearts. He even knows what we mean to do. He knows my struggles and your struggles with learning to set aside special time with God. There’s a verse in the Bible that tells us God desires obedience over sacrifice. He doesn’t want to see me burn my sub or you throw away your books to prove that you love Him. You prove your love to Him by being obedient to Him. Like when you know you’re going to bed and you need to spend time with the Lord, you set your book aside and you spend time with Him.” He smiled and reached down to kiss my forehead, before leaving my room.
I sat there pondering over what he said. I stared at the three books left on my shelf, and then I grabbed them too and stuffed them in the bag. I didn’t put them in the trash bag with the same attitude I did the rest though. This time it wasn’t because I had to prove my faithfulness to God, my books had just suddenly lost their appeal to me, and I was ready to get back to knowing the Lord through my devotions.
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