Punctuality and the Tyranny of the Clock

punctuality and clocks

I have a love-hate relationship with clocks.

When I was a child, my parents always set our clocks five minutes fast, supposedly to help prevent us from being late to appointments.

It never worked. We were always late…to everything.

Despite the ineffectiveness of the practice, I carried it over into my marriage. For forty years, all our clocks were five minutes faster than the actual time.

It didn’t work for us, either. We were usually late to most appointments, much to my husband’s chagrin…which should tell you whose fault it was. Punctuality was my nemesis.

Daylight Savings Time (DST) ended this past Sunday. A day on which we were all required to turn our clocks back one hour.

punctuality and clockSince I’ve begun a new season of life and I was changing all my clocks anyway, I decided it was time for a fresh start. So I set all my timepieces to the accurate time…and in the process, broke a sixty-year-old habit.

Then I posted about it on social media.

The response floored me. It seems I’m not the only one to set clocks faster to help me be on time.

And I’m not the only one for whom the practice has failed.

So what’s causing all these punctuality failures?

Is it because we’ve been conditioned to fill—or overfill—every minute with activity? For many of us, down time is a rare and foreign experience. We feel guilty if we’re not constantly on the go. If I have an open hour, my first question is, “What am I forgetting to do?”

Or perhaps we’ve become so self-centered that we think the world revolves around us and our convenience? One friend commented on my social media post, recalling a poem that changed her perspective…and her habits:

To be early is to be on time,
To be on time is to be late,
To be late is to be selfish.

Her little poem is not only painfully convicting, it’s also biblical. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (ESV). When I’m late, I’m guilty of putting my own interests above others.

Maybe our tardiness is because, as another friend noted, “Optimists are usually the late ones. We anticipate everything going perfectly door to door.” Guilty as charged. Of course, we all know it’s a rare day when everything goes perfectly!

One cousin noted being tardy is in our family’s genes. While history supports her conclusion, I’m determined to change our family’s reputation.

It’s only been five days, but so far, so good!

What tips do you have for being punctual?


 
Fall Colors in Nature and in Us

Fall colors

Fall…the time when (in places other than Florida!) nature dons flamboyant garb as God paints His world with vibrant colors. Lush, supple leaves in shades of green gradually change color until the green is just a memory, replaced by vivid red, yellow, and orange.

But where do the fall colors come from? What causes the bright transformation each year?

Actually, those other colors were there the whole time.

Remember middle school science class? Chlorophyll in the leaves creates the green color. Other chemicals, such as carotene, create orange, yellow, and red pigments. The other colors are always there. But the work of the chlorophyll overpowers those chemicals and conceals the additional hues.

Shorter days and cooler temperatures cause the chlorophyll in the leaves to break down. Since the chlorophyll is responsible for the green color, as it breaks down, the other pigments are free to strut their stuff.

Of course, you know there’s a spiritual application in all this, don’t you?

Life can be moving along, fresh and lush. Good things are happening and you’re growing in the warmth of the sun. And then suddenly there’s a chill in the air as tragedy strikes.

You lose your job.

The bank is about to foreclose.

Your husband wants a divorce.

The prognosis is terminal.

And you and I have a choice.

  • We can curl up in a corner and surrender to defeat. Or we can allow the cold circumstances to reveal strength we never knew was there as we depend on God for His upholding.
  • Instead of being overpowered by a situation that would conquer most people, we can stand firm in the power of our heavenly Father.
  • We can become bitter because life didn’t turn out the way we wanted. Or we can grow in the grace of the Holy Spirit as we follow His leading.
  • We can resent our losses. Or we can trust the Lord for what He will give us in their place.

fall colorsOur choice will determine the colors that shine through our life.

Will you and I allow disappointment to be His appointment?

Will we allow God to turn our messes into messages?

Our tests into a testimony?

And our trials into triumphs?

Sometimes green is just for a season. But there’s a season for reds, oranges, and yellows, too. And even when those vibrant colors turn brown and it feels like there’s no coming back…

Fall follows summer.

Winter follows fall.

And spring follows winter.

And with spring comes tender shoots with lush green leaves…again.

What season are you in?
Which colors are you displaying?


 
A Time to Work and a Time Not to Work

Labor Day - celebrating work

The Labor Day holiday weekend is coming. Ironically, it’s a holiday we celebrate by avoiding what we’re celebrating. We celebrate labor by not working.

This holiday reminds us there’s a time to work…and a time not to work.

And that applies to our Christian life, too. There’s a time to work and a time not to.

Our restored relationship with God is not dependent on any labor on our part. Consider Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV):

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

We can’t take credit for our salvation. That’s what makes it so amazing. Every other religion is based on humanity’s efforts to work their way up to heaven. But Christianity is all about God reaching down to us. He did it all.

And it’s a good thing He did. Because we don’t have the ability to reach up to a holy God. Our sin separates us from Him—a chasm we couldn’t breach even if we wanted to. If restoration is to occur, it must be initiated by Him.

Still, there’s a place for our work. Because the next verse (Ephesians 2:10) tells us:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Yes, there’s a time to work—not for our salvation, but because of it. We serve the Lord from a heart overflowing with gratitude because He restored us to Him.

But what about Philippians 2:12-13?

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (NIV).

“Work out your salvation” or “It is God who works in you”? Which is it?

Both.

As Oswald Chambers explained:

“With focused attention and great care, you have to ‘work out’ what God ‘works in’ you— not work to accomplish or earn ‘your own salvation,’ but work it out so you will exhibit the evidence of a life based with determined, unshakable faith on the complete and perfect redemption of the Lord.”

But what about Labor Day? What about the work we do vocationally? The Bible has something to say about that, too, especially for Christians:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV).

So this weekend let’s celebrate labor. And as we celebrate, let’s remember that our salvation is the one area where God did it all, because there’s a time to work…and a time not to.


 
Memorial Stones

Memorial Day

Some movies stay with you forever. Schindler’s List is one of those movies for me. And the emotional pull did not stop when the closing credits ran. The movie ended with the various actors, paired with their real-life counterparts, filing past Oskar Schindler’s actual burial site. Each person stopped to leave a stone of remembrance on the grave.

The practice of using memorial stones goes way back to biblical times. In the book of Joshua (4:20-22 ESV), we read:

“And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And he said to the people of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in times to come, “What do these stones mean?” then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’”

Today, many continue to follow the Jewish custom of leaving small stones at a loved one’s grave site to show the deceased is remembered.

All cultures have traditions of remembrance. It might be the setting of an annual holiday or a practice of exchanging gifts. Some cultures remember the past by re-enacting historical events or dressing in period garb.

This month, Americans celebrate Memorial Day. “Celebrate” might not be the best word to describe this holiday, though, because it’s a day set aside to remember those who died in the various branches of the armed forces. Sadly today, the day is more associated with the unofficial beginning of summer than it is for the memorializing of those who gave their lives for their country.

Christians also have traditions of remembrance. We celebrate annual holidays such as Christmas and Easter. We also celebrate a regular practice of sharing in Communion, also called The Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist. By sharing in Communion, we fulfill Jesus’ command to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19 NIV).

So what are we remembering? Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13 ESV).

We’re remembering Christ’s sacrifice for us 2,000 years ago. And we’re remembering His promise to return someday. Every time we celebrate communion, we look back and we look ahead.

This Memorial Day, look back in honor of those who gave their lives in defense of our nation, and look ahead in gratitude for the life they protected.

And the next time you celebrate Communion, do the same: look back in honor of the One who died for you, and look ahead to the day He will return for you.

We don’t always need stones of remembrance, but we do need to remember.

How will you spend Memorial Day this year?


 
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