– Monday Muse
Dear One, one morning, not too long ago, the hour was early when I pulled into the parking lot with time to spare. The three drivers, all the passengers, and their luggage were in place. Mine was quickly added to it. All was readied well before the 6:30 a.m. take off. That is… all except for arrival of one more person.
The group stood around and talked about everything except the tardy person. Occasionally someone discreetly glanced at the time, for our schedule was tight. After the departure time passed, a question was asked about the possible whereabouts of the missing person. A close friend of his insisted, “I know he’s coming.” And he did.
The young man, sauntered up twenty-five minutes late, carrying a hot, Starbuck’s coffee. Just like words written from a sky-writing airplane, you could read everyone’s thoughts in the air, “You are this late, and you still took time to get specialty coffee, on top of that you don’t offer any apology for keeping all of us waiting, and taking us off schedule before we even get out of town?”
I looked at the guy, and thought, if not for God’s still small voice, I could be you, the one indifferent to the schedule of others, living as though my time was of greater value than that of anyone else’s.
Although, my lesson was learned in the 80’s, I have never forgotten the morning that God dealt with me about arriving a few minutes late, yes, minutes. At that same time, He taught me that it was not a matter of the length of the tardiness; it was tardiness …period. Any tardiness that could be avoided, other than the need of another, was deemed unacceptable.
That particular day, I was heading into town to meet a woman for one-on-one discipleship. When I looked at the clock, I saw that I had just enough time to arrive on schedule. But then, I thought, perhaps I will stop by McDonald’s and get some coffee with real cream. (There was only powdered cream at church. I hate that stuff.) I’ll only be maybe ten, twelve minutes late.
With that consideration came these words, “SO YOUR TIME IS MORE VALUABLE THAN HERS?” The words were not loud; but they were firm, FIRM. I was convicted, convicted, deeply ashamed, and changed…all at once. I thought of my friend Donna waiting in the classroom for me to arrive…wasting her time waiting for me…for me…to get coffee with cream. I thought of all the times that I had tried to finish a task at home before leaving, thinking, I can probably still make it on time, or almost on time. Instantly, I realized, without questioning that that was pure selfishness. I understood that anything I did for myself or my family, instead of arriving on the agreed upon time was wrong, was disrespectful, displayed a lack of discipline, and dishonored God. Conviction more than filled my being.
Later, during the following week, when I thought more about what I had learned, I realized it was an expansion of the call to love one another. Love takes many forms, and punctuality is one of them. Since that time, for me, being late is actually painful. Thankfully it seldom happens, but I do hope my punctuality is more about pleasing God, and less about avoiding pain. Now when I desperately want to finish one last task before I leave the house, I ask myself if I truly have the time. I have also learned this; it is much more enjoyable to run into town on schedule than it is to try and urge the car in front of me to go faster. “Thank you, Lord.” During that same year or so, on the same road, almost in the same spot, God taught me another on-the-road lesson. I hope to share that with you another time.
Thankfully, the caravan made good time, and the group was on schedule throughout the event.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one
another; as I have loved you, that you also love one
another; By this all will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
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