Teach us to number our days aright, so that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Time. You’ve been on my mind…
One of my favorite pass-time entertainments is looking through antique shops. I often don’t have extra time in my days to do this, but sometimes I take a few minutes between errands and scheduled events, to briefly stop and browse. This is relaxing and enjoyable to me. Standing in one spot, I find numerous items to study. Questions fill my mind about each item: Who was the previous owner? What was that person’s story? What is the story behind each object? So much history in such a small space!
Recently, I visited a shop that was new to me. I came across a little Baby Ben alarm clock, identical to the one I had while growing up. I stood there holding the clock, turning it over and over in my hand. Checking out all of the little gears and wind-up knobs. I was taken back in time in my own life: Waking up for school to my alarm clock. The nights I got home late and tired after traveling and cheering at out-of-town ballgames, looking at my clock before collapsing into bed. The times I looked at that clock while getting ready for a special event. So many times I looked at the same clock over that particular season of my life. A season that was completely foreign from the one I’m in now.
Now years later, there I was, looking at that same clock. So many of life’s questions from back then, I now have the answers: Where would I live when I grew up? Who would I marry? How many kids would I have? What would they look like? What would their names be? What would I be doing for work? Those questions now have answers, at least for this stage in my life. That clock also reminds me of how unpredictable the future can be…how quickly life can change.
There is a place that I enjoy riding my bike to, a few miles from where I live, just outside of town. The spot is alongside a big creek that runs through my town. This particular spot holds the foundation remnants of what used to be someone’s home. A home that once held a family. That sheltered them. Walls that contained holiday celebrations and memories, milestones…babies brought home from the hospital or possibly even birthed there. First steps, lost teeth, birthdays, anniversaries…a home that was a large financial investment. It represented hard work and money saved for that family to be able to live there.
Alongside the foundation remnants also remains an outdoor patio space that faces the creek. I imagine peaceful summer nights, crickets singing, a family sitting outdoors soaking in the night sounds. Children laughing and playing. The tranquil sound of the creek flowing in the background; never dreaming of the event to later take place.
On the evening of June 9, 1972, heavy thunderstorms caused flash floods from this very creek, resulting in the death of 238 lives that night. Homes, businesses and personal property were washed away; completely destroyed in this flood including the one that once sat there. I’m sure that the family who lived in this home never could have imagined such a tragedy taking place; for those blissful summer nights to come to an end. Perhaps even the loss of a family member (or members) in the midst of this event; leaving permanent scars of loss and trauma. I will probably never know the story behind this home or family, but visiting this spot brings me back to the subject of time and its importance and value.
Riding out to these foundation remnants reminds me that life is short. It’s unpredictable. No one is promised a tomorrow. No one is promised that, in an instant, the things we have today, will remain. The consciousness of time makes me strive to appreciate what I have today; to live in the present moment as much as possible. To care for and be true to those who are in my life, right now. My tomorrow could look completely different than my today.
Time is the one resource that we can never get back once it’s gone. This concept makes me want to make the most of every minute, of every hour, of every day. Daily praying Psalm 90:12 that says, “Teach me to number my days aright, so that I may gain a heart of wisdom.” I am definitely not perfect in this area. Often days pass by where I don’t make the most of every opportunity and I’m not always wise with how I spend my time. I have missed the mark when it comes to cherishing a moment with a loved one that I will never be able to get back. There are times I have passed on an opportunity to experience something that I never again will have that same opportunity again. I want to live with no regrets, at least as few as possible.
Having lost many loved ones over the years, and knowing several people who have passed in recent months or friends who have lost loved ones; it causes me to evaluate and reevaluate my life. I strive to make the most of each day. To let those who I care about, know how much I care. To give that extra hug or snuggle to a child who is just needing me a little bit more that day. To take those few extra minutes to listen to someone who simply needs to talk and have someone listen. All of these simple acts show that I care, especially when there are other things on my agenda. Giving someone your time tells them that you care. Giving God your time expresses the condition of your heart.
Throughout my days, I have my own idea of how my day should go. How I want to spend my time. Like anyone, those plans get “interrupted” with the unexpected. Maybe I get a phone call from someone who needs to talk or I run into a person at the grocery store who I haven’t seen in a long time. I call these “God divine interruptions.” These are the people and events that HE has planned out for me that day. These “interruptions” could be seen as annoyances if I was not seeking God and His will for my life; if I was not looking at these events as opportunities. From interruptions to opportunities; the whole perspective shifts depending on our mindset.
God’s timing is perfect. Never too early or too late; always right on time. His timing is not always our timing. (Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD). Still, I must trust that He is in control. There are times when I have been late as a result of being held up in traffic, a child’s tantrum, or a baby’s “blow-out” diaper. These unexpected events can cause stress for sure! Still, I try to look at these as”God’s perfect timing.” Perhaps, I am being delayed for a reason. God can see what we cannot. Maybe that slow car in front of me or the train holding up traffic is actually saving me or someone else from a car accident or something else that is unforeseen.
I recall when I was about 7 months pregnant with my firstborn child, I was driving to a restaurant with my mom. God spared us that night from would most likely have been a fatal, head-on car accident. We were literally, seconds from being hit by a car that we didn’t see coming, it was going the wrong way…coming up the interstate off-ramp we were getting ready to take. I’m thankful for God’s timing and placement of a large semi-truck that I happened to be following directly behind. The truck took the impact instead of us. The driver of the truck walked away unharmed. Unfortunately, the driver of the wrong-way car was killed on impact. God spared and protected me and my family and the truck driver that night.
I could list example after example, the multiple times God has shown himself faithful with His timing in my life and the lives of others. There are also times I realize that He has placed me at a specific location and time to witness an event that needs immediate prayer. I stop everything that I’m doing and pray for whatever the crisis is: an accident, a building lockdown, bomb threats or a shooting. Often times, a “code blue” or call for the “crash cart” while I’m at the hospital receiving my own medical treatments. There are so many times when I stop and pray and then the code blue is canceled a few minutes later. Or I see that bike rider who was hit by a car, walk away from the scene of the accident. Or that shooter is arrested before anyone is harmed or that lockdown turns out to have been nothing more than a threat. Seeing prayers answered builds my faith!
Each day when I get up, I say “ok God, what do you have for me today?” I pause and I listen. Often, He speaks to my heart and simply says, “I love you.” Sometimes He puts someone particular on my mind that I need to pray for or reach out to; or maybe a particular task to accomplish for that day. I then go about my day as I have planned, adding to it what He has shown me to do. I trust Him to lead me and guide the events of my day according to His perfect plan and timing.
If you know me then you know that I often arrive “fashionably late” or in the “nick of time.” Being on-time is important to me and I strive for it, but I often seem to fail miserably. I started having trouble with running late after visiting Maui for the first time, back in 2001. I recall seeing a bumper sticker that said, “Slow Down…This Ain’t The Mainland.” I’ve never forgotten it! I love the slower, laid-back pace of the Islands! We mainland American’s should take some lessons!
I claim to be part Hawaiian even though I can’t find a trace of it in my bloodline. I love the true Hawaiian people and culture! They are some of the most loving, friendly, warm people on earth. Aloha is more than a greeting. It means love, affection, peace, compassion, and mercy. The heart of Hawaiians! I believe that Hawaiians have learned the art of living in the moment and savoring time. Showing their love towards others by giving their time to all who they meet. This is how I want to live!
There are times when I have to choose between being “on time” or taking care of a person and situation that is directly in front of me; who need my immediate time and attention. In most cases, I choose the person (I pray for wisdom with each situation as it comes along). I believe that is what God would want us to do. I see in the Bible that this is how Jesus lived. Relationship over meeting a particular standard or expectation.
As for being on time, I really do try hard and am getting somewhat better. God has shown me how even in my humanity and imperfection of running late, He still can use that for His perfect timing!
I like reading Ecclesiastes chapter 3: For everything, there is a season…
I’m reminded of how there truly is a season and reason for each phase and event that takes place in our lives. I’m also reminded of just how quickly life can change. Few things remain the same with time. Take a look at photographs of people and how different they look with time. Or the weather or anything in nature, all changing with each passing season. One can easily see how the seasons in life are very brief. Even the hard seasons in pass and change. God makes everything beautiful in His time!
As for those foundational remains that lie outside of town, just along the Creek bed; perhaps someday another home will be built in its place. For now, it is a beautiful, peaceful spot for me to sit along the creek and think. It also serves as a good reminder to make the most out of each day and to savor every opportunity and moment with each person who God places along my path. We never know what tomorrow will hold. Make the most out of your today!