"Okay, listen up everyone. After you shower, wipe the tile down!" It wasn't an unreasonable request—a simple gesture to save me time so I could engage in other activities besides scrubbing, disinfecting, and polishing.
For two whole days the men of the family adhered. Then it became too much for their bulging muscles to handle. That's when the excuses flowed faster than it takes time to evacuate the kitchen after mealtime.
"But I wasn't the last one to shower," teen-age son, Jeff protested."Besides, I'm running late. I'll do it later, Mom."
I've heard that before. Later, as in; sometime-maybe-long-after-Mom's-buffed-the-tile-squeaky-clean-and-it-doesn't-need-to-be-wiped-down-anymore later.
Somehow simple requests are the hardest for my family to follow. Sudden memory loss occurs when they're asked to take out the garbage, feed the cat, or stack the dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of piling them, dripping with food scraps, inside the sink.
"Oops, sorry I forgot," is a common phrase that is supposed to trigger immediate clemency from me. Yet these same guys have photographic memories to recall all the words to their favorite songs, baseball players' individual batting averages, or what recreational activities they have planned three weeks from Saturday.
But perhaps they are not so different from the rest of us. For God has a few simple requests too: Read the Bible, pray, obey God, love one another. Not unreasonable requests, yet most of us are much like my family members when it comes to following through.
"Too busy," we say, "Later, when I have the time." "Oops, sorry Lord, I forgot . . ." we half-heartedly confess, hoping to invoke God's immediate approval. Yet invariably we remember to watch our favorite TV program, or recall what hours the mall is open, or what day we have off of work next month.
We know what we should do, but we often don't. Jesus discerned: "... The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matt. 26141). Thus, when our guilt leads to conviction and we finally resolve to obey God's commands, it is often short-lived. C.onsequently, our good intentions are meaningless without corresponding actions.
Much like my son's false promises. So I wiped down the shower tile . . again. Seems my request needs some incentives. This time, I thought I'd try the memory loss excuse... be apologetic, yet insincere.
When my son returned home he asked if he had any phone messages as he scanned the stove top for signs of dinner. "Oops, sorry I forgot," I responded wide-eyed and innocent.
"Forgot my messages or dinner?"
"Both. I just didn't have the time."
"Well, when do we eat?"
"Later Jeff ... much, much later."
Amazing. He suddenly regained his memory.