Wipe Out

When I took the job I had no idea how badly I would mess things up.

The summer after I graduated high school, I took a temporary job working at a small radio station. Typically, I did simple tasks like answering phones and typing letters, but the most important job I had was in the station’s headquarters, where I set up the sequence of songs for the day. Back then, the station’s songs were still on large reels, like big round cassette tapes, and every morning I switched numbered buttons on a huge machine to determine which of six reels to play and in which order.  By setting the proper series of numbers, the machine would know which spool to play for music, and which to switch to for news, commercials, and other pre-recorded audio bytes.

One day, shortly after I’d been hired, everyone in the office planned to attend an off-site meeting and I was to be left alone. While I knew how to program the numbers I didn’t know how to switch-out empty reels when they came to the end of their play.  Once a reel came to the end of the tape it had to quickly be removed and replaced with a new reel before the pre-programmed machine switched over to play the next recording in that slot.  

No reel?  Dead air. Every radio station’s nightmare.  

I was given a quick lesson on changing out the spools. And though I was shown a couple of times I should have asked for a third because all the complicated “feed the tape over this hole” and “loop it through this slot” and “make sure you push this button to lock it into place” got a bit jumbled in my brain. Too proud to ask again, I figured I’d manage, and the staff headed out, leaving me alone.

For the next hour I sat nervously at my desk, glancing periodically at the day’s list of programmed numbers so that I knew when reel number one would come to its end.  At last, it finished its series of songs and I rushed to change out the reel. Sweat was pouring down my face as I, in my panic, fumbled to thread the tape over, under, and through the feed. The music continued to play on the other reels and I stood silently staring at the machine praying that God would bless my efforts.  “Please, please, please!” I begged, as I waited for the machine to start playing reel one. Finally, here it came. Click. The tape started feeding properly and I felt a wave of relief and began walking back to my desk.  

As Christian parents we must get out of the habit of making our plans and then praying that God will bless them.

Suddenly, my eyes bulged and heart stopped. Playing through the speakers in my office was The Beach Boys’ song Wipe Out like I’d never heard it before. “Blawuheeawwawk…” I’d fed the tape correctly but put the entire reel on backwards! And, without the skill to know how to bypass it altogether, I finished walking back to my desk, put my head in my hands and waited for the phone calls to rush in from an angry boss and unhappy listeners as the entire song, all three and a half minutes of it, played backwards!

I think as parents we often operate in the same way I operated at the K-NGT radio studio.  We rush around, following all the “right steps” and then frantic and uncertain, we stand before God and say, “Okay Lord, please. I’ve put everything in place. I’ve done my part. Now please, please, please bless my day” only to find that there’s no music to be heard at the end of all the rushing, doing, and hurrying. Instead, we find that in our hearts there is chaos and disorder; the sound of spiritual “Blawuheeawwawk…” 

Why the noise instead of music? Because we get it backwards. We make our plans and then pray and ask God to bless them. We seek our kingdom first rather than God’s.

As Christian parents we must get out of the habit of making our plans and then praying that God will bless them. In Matthew 22:37-38, Jesus said, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment,” and in Matthew 6:33 Jesus says, in essence, “stop worrying about everything else and seek first the Kingdom of God.”

Are you worried or worn out? Begin a new pattern. Begin each day and each decision by first asking God what He has planned for you that day. When making a decision or considering a new priority ask God to show you if it will move your children and your family toward Him or farther away. We teach our children best to seek God first by showing them how it’s done.  It’s easy to get caught up in to-do lists, work deadlines, and family crises, trying to “get it all right” but our number one priority needs to be GOD and HIS plans. Doing those other things may be an expression of our love for the Lord, but they fall into place after we first seek Him. If we get this backwards, like my reel of music, life will play-out the same way The Beach Boys’ song did during my radio fiasco —a cacophony of purposeless activities and frantic existence. Stop. Love God. Seek His Kingdom. Only then, will we enjoy the melody of His perfectly-orchestrated plan and avoid … our own wipe out.

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