Time is imaginary, right? Just like money. Not real. Just a concept. A suggestion.
If I have, say, a 3:00 meeting that is 20 minutes away and I leave at 2:50. I’m not late. Not until I am halfway there and the clock ticks 3:00 am I late.
If I have a project due tomorrow by noon that I haven’t started, I’m not late. Not until tomorrow comes and the deadline passes. At 12:01, I’m late. At 11:59, I still have time. Perhaps a miracle will happen and …
If I have, say, a book that I am trying to write. And there is no deadline. It’s just done when it’s done. I set the timing. I’m completely in charge. It can’t be late. That’s a good thing, right? I shouldn’t let a silly old ticking clock control me. Or a day-timer. Or a calendar.
Well, timing is imaginary, right? A human fabrication. Something we created so we could call meetings and assign projects and …
I don’t have a very good relationship with time. In fact, we’re enemies. I disregard it. Spend it at will on anything I wish. As if it grew on trees. As if it were endless.
God’s time is. Not mine. The time I am spending today belongs to both of us. He shared it with me. How could that be my enemy?
Head down. Dig in. There’s work to be done.
It’s a funny thing about the pace of life these days. It hurries me. I’ve got 24 hours just like the next girl, so why is it that I always seem to be running late?
It was Sunday and I was late for church again. Brushing my teeth and grabbing the earrings that were easiest to put on, texting my friend that I was “on my way,” I tear off my offering envelope leaving a ragged edge, scribble something on the check and pray for a few red lights on the way so I can fill in the date and sign the darn thing. Funny, isn’t it, to pray for red lights when I’m already running late for worship.
But God answered with a nice long red light a mere quarter mile before I reached the turn for the church parking lot. I exhaled, threw it in park and pulled out that check. Scribbled in the date, signed my name then moved my pen to the memo line. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the folks in the turn lane going. My time was running out. Quickly, and in a hand-writing no human could read, I wrote, offering.
And that stopped me cold. Really? Was this my offering? My rush to attend worship. My pushing the speed limit? My jockeying for which was the quickest lane to get me ahead in traffic. Really?
In writing that word, I all at once, came face to face with offering. Not with what I shoved in the envelope (Now I’m not sure I even wrote my name on the outside.) but with what I brought to worship. And, ironically, I did not feel the pointing finger of chastisement I certainly deserved. No. Gone was the hurry. It had been replaced with “be quick, on purpose.” Somehow that was something I could do.
I pulled into the church lot, all the way to the back, leaving the closer spaces for the folks who needed them. I even offered a few quick words to my Maker as I shut off the car, grabbed the cell phone and joined the others who were walking smartly from their cars toward the doors held open by greeters for the morning. I even engaged in a little lighthearted banter with the other guy doing what I was, dodging cars and traffic while trying to find the button to silence his cell phone.
“Trying to silence the cell,” I say sheepishly, falling in stride.
“Me too,” he says, as we both look up and move left to avoid the oncoming car.
“They’re probably going, oh those darn people on their cell phones!” I say and smile. Of course, that’s what I would be thinking.
“Yep, and here in the church parking lot, for goodness sake!” He says and we both laugh.
We both stash our phones in time to accept the handshake of the greeter, smiling from his open doorway. I have never met the tall, blondish man who greets me with the very welcoming smile. Really wish I could remember the name on his name tag because he offered me the perfect greeting, “You’re not late. You’re just on time.”
I walked in and glanced at my watch. Sure enough, 9:15. Just on time. I slipped into a pew, greeted a few people already in seats nearby, and found myself oddly prepared for worship ~ given the hurry that consumed me a half hour ago. Offering, on purpose, seemed even to trump time.
I do believe there are times when we are meant to move quickly. But it’s not for our own good. It’s because someone where we’re going needs us to be there. Those are times to move quickly, with a purpose. It won’t feel like hurry.
It’ll probably feel more like God’s pace. I expect it was the pace of my friend the greeter on Sunday morning, arriving early, so he could offer a handshake of forgiveness, that showed no judgment, just welcome. Just on time.