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Re-LENT-ing

You don’t need to do more; just take more time with the things you’re doing.

This rings in my ears as I ready things for my day. It is my regular plea to the woman who comes and cleans on Fridays. She rushes through, banging and clanking, piling up and going around. There seems to be a race at hand that only she knows about. Take your time, I tell her, and you’ll notice the small things that you’re missing. These are the things that show that a house is well-tended. Cared for. Managed.

And how often our words are meant really for ourselves. “You don’t need to do more; just take time with the things you are doing.” What a word for this time and this season! This Lenten season where we “take up” or “give up” in honor of our Lord. Diligence demands that we re-commit or more deeply dedicate to something. After all, look at what Christ did for us?

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily,” Luke tells us.

Surely for 40 days I can carry something extra for Christ. And I picture myself shuffling all that I am holding so that I can lay the cross on top. It teeters and falls, so I bend to pick it up again and my papers, folders, emails, and articles slip and slide. My manuscript balances precariously but then it too goes. The wind blows and I give chase. The cross is now an afterthought in the melee.

You don’t need to do more; just take more time with the things you’re doing.” The words stop me. This time the voice is not mine. It is His. It echoes above two outstretched hands. Worn, weathered hands which bear splinters from that self-same cross.

And I look at my own. A writer’s hands. A mother’s hands. A teacher’s hands. A trainer’s hands. What a privilege to carry all of this and all of these to the Lord in prayer and in action. To take my time to tend to each, as if there was enough time to tend to all. What if that was my Lenten dedication? Not to pick up a new effort but to tend to the things in my hands with the diligence they deserve? To take a closer look and notice the things I had been missing.

I am one who prefers to gather in the broad picture and leave the details to others. The devil, after all, is in the details, right? Better not go there. Yes, there. Risk getting it right. Risk taking your time. Do it again if you must, so it is just so. That is my calling this Lent. So that the effort I put forth produces something which shows the care behind it. And that speaks Christ.

A Day Late, but renewable?

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24

If that was the lesson for Monday but I didn’t open it until Tuesday, did I miss it?

It’s so great when we run on time. Better even if we get there early and are already settled in our seats. We’ve shed our heavy coats, arranged our belongings, perhaps even taken a moment to look over the agenda or schedule of events or bulletin. It’s so comforting to know what’s coming and be prepared. And then to hear, the Lord made this day.

But what if we don’t tune in until tomorrow? If I wait “until I have time” or “there’s an opening in my schedule” or “to give it my full attention”? All valid. All reasonable. All late.

I have a friend Stevie who once sent me a devotional writing she had read which made her think of me. She said, “This came for you today.” I smiled and read it right then. Because Stevie has a sense of the immediate need and a faith that serves in real time.

Occasionally, following Stevie’s example, I share a writing or an idea or write a note or make a phone call with the prompting, “this came for ____ today.” There is power in that which does not come from me.

But every now and then I get a reply: “Out of office” or “I look forward to reading your note tomorrow,” and I wonder whether it was a one day offer. Does God’s power have an expiration date? Is it a limited, one time offer?

Because there are many, many things in my pantry or cupboard or my closet which have long expired. What have I missed for not having welcomed them in their day?

No sense worrying. Whatever was, is now past. But it does prompt me to clean out those crevices so I can give today it’s due. I don’t want to miss it again. Because if this is the day the Lord has made, there’s joy.

I’m not late, I’m coming!

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.

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