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?


 
Oaks From Acorns Grow

Oaks from Acorns Grow

Remember the song, “Tall Oaks from Acorns Grow”? It’s a cute children’s song—one I hadn’t thought of in decades…until I began catching up on long overdue yardwork.

For the past 2 years, circumstances have caused me to neglect our yard. Shrubs grew wild and leggy. Weeds invaded where flowers should have bloomed. Two years of growth in a state where the growing season is year-round.

The solution to tackling this task is much like the answer to the riddle about how to eat an elephant: one bite at a time. So in recent weeks I’ve trimmed a bit, weeded a lot, pruned the plants I want to keep, and cut out the unwanted vegetation. Even with all that work, I’ve barely made a dent in our abundant Florida growth.

Oaks from Acorns GrowBut before discouragement could set in, I realized that in recent days I’ve been crunching acorns underfoot. And the children’s song came to mind.

We can joke about clichés, but the truth is, the large oak I labored under did indeed start as a tiny acorn. Planted in fertile soil, it simply did what it was created to do: hold its ground and grow.

As I work in the dirt, reflecting on oaks and acorns, I’m reminded that even though it might seem as if my situation is burying me, God is using it to plant me instead.

Oaks from Acorns GrowStill, I need to remember…

The darkness can be frightening, but His light shines brightest in the dark.

The duration and weight of our circumstances may be painful, but the combination of time and pressure drives us to the One who is our Refuge.

And the sense of loneliness in the face of our trials helps us appreciate the intimacy of our relationship with the One who created us, saved us, and indwells us with His Holy Spirit.

Thinking about acorns and oaks also reminds me of the passage in Isaiah 61:1-3:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (NIV).

This prophetic passage pointed to the Messiah—Jesus Christ, the anointed One who would come hundreds of years later to God’s chosen people as their Savior and Lord. It speaks to people who are hurting.

Those who feel buried in dark circumstances.

People in mourning and despair.

People who have been waiting so long that they’ve almost given up hope.

Yet this passage refers to God’s people as “oaks.” Plantings of the Lord for His glory.

Are you feeling discouraged today? In dark despair? Are you convinced your circumstances will bury you because you don’t have the strength to persevere?

Consider yourself planted instead. And know God does not abandon His children, regardless of their situation. Run to Him when you’re lonely. Welcome the light of His presence to dispel the darkness. Trust His perfect timing.

And remember…oaks from acorns grow.


 
Aging Gracefully . . . and Biblically

Aging Gracefully

Is it possible to age gracefully? What does that even mean?

Been thinking recently about aging. It may have something to do with the fact that I’ve reached another milestone birthday. In a culture that worships youth, I wonder how long it will be before I become a living relic of a bygone era—someone merely tolerated by younger people. Then I wonder if the future is now.

It doesn’t help that I find myself saying many of the things that once caused me to roll my eyes when my mother said them decades ago. Things I had determined never to repeat. Sigh. Never say never!

I’ve known people who have modeled what it is to not age with grace. Many had health issues and painful life experiences. Their response was to grow more cranky and unhappy with each passing year.

I’ve also had some wonderful role models who exemplified how to age with grace. People who determined their circumstances would not drag them down. Instead, they kept looking up. Up toward heaven. Toward their Savior. Toward the gift of each new day, despite their difficulties. And I hope I’ve learned something from each of them.

The pages of the Bible are also filled with positive role models—people who aged gracefully. Here are 6 people I want to be like when I grow up!

  • Enoch

Enoch’s secret to aging gracefully was to “walk with God” (Genesis 5:22, 24). I love the word picture of walking with God. To walk with someone means you don’t run ahead and you don’t lag behind. That’s how I want to live: walking with God.

  • Moses

Age is not an obstacle to God’s call on our life. Moses was 80 years old when God called him to lead ancient Israel out of Egyptian slavery. What an encouragement it is to know that regardless of what the calendar says, God can still use me. We also read that Moses was more humble than anyone else (Numbers 12:3). Hmmm…availability and humility: a combination I need to cultivate!

  • Caleb

Caleb was one of the 12 spies sent by Moses to spy out the promised land and bring back a report. He stood with Joshua when the other 10 spies sowed seeds of doubt among the people. Forty-five years later, at the mature age of 85, Caleb requested a portion of the land that would be especially difficult to conquer—a land of “fortified cities” (Joshua 14:12). He was successful because he “followed the Lord God of Israel fully” (Joshua 14:14). Someone willing to stand against the crowd who follows God fully: that’s who I want to grow up to be!

  • Elizabeth

Elizabeth was the wife of a priest. She was unable to conceive, a disgrace among women at that time. But despite her disappointment and her advanced age (Luke 1:6-7), she was described as righteous in God’s sight. And God chose her to be the mother of the one who would herald the coming of Christ. What a woman! I want to age gracefully like Elizabeth—someone who trusts God despite the disappointments of life.

  • Simeon

Although we’re not told Simeon’s age, it appears he was an older man. We can conclude this because the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen the Christ (Luke 2:26). He was then content to leave this life, having seen the One who had been promised. I very much want to be like Simeon. Someone who is sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and follows His leading.

  • Anna

At 84 years old, Anna had been widowed for an estimated 60+ years. She spent her life serving and worshipping at the Temple “night and day” with fasting and prayer. When she heard Simeon’s pronouncement, she thanked God and spread the word to all who would listen that the Messiah had been born (Luke 2:38). I want to be like Anna as I age: someone who lives to serve and worship. Someone who lives with an attitude of gratitude. And someone who can’t stop talking about Jesus.

As the calendar pages turn and birthdays come and go, who are your role models for aging gracefully?

 


 
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