Time is on my side

This summer the weather has been horrible. Usually we can count on a good bit of rain, and clouds are the rule, rather than the exception during the months of May and June. It often remains cool, as well … a day that reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit is considered warm. We don’t usually make any plans that require good weather until after the July 4th weekend, during which it often rains.

Since May we have faced an unremitting monotony of warm, sunny days. Oh, there have been a few cloudy days, and there was one promising stretch where it looked as though the rain might settle in, but that passed all too quickly and the sunshine returned.

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(This is not actually the pool I bought. It is the kiddie pool, now three years old.)

What’s a guy to do? I finally broke down and bought a pool for my children, even though the shade around our home and the deep chill of our well-water don’t promote comfortable swimming conditions. A visiting missionary-in-training and I whipped up a solar heating system for it (it is important to keep those missionary-types busy) and the kids are often able to enjoy the pool for whole minutes at a time, at least once they break up the ice and chase away the penguins.

Last summer I was unemployed (or self-employed, depending on how you look at it) and I was able to squeeze every last drop of sunshine out of a nearly cloudless season. But this year I’m working in the city, and am confined to a small cubicle deep in the bowels of a former hospital, bathed in unattractive fluorescent light. As midsummer’s day approached, I began to resent the blue skies and bright sun, often only experiencing the sunrise and sunset on a given day. Each day seemed a priceless treasure that was sinking uselessly into the past, exchanged for the dubious privilege of scratching out a living wage in support of my family.

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This is the new pool. The penguins said their agent didn’t permit pictures without compensation.

Then one day it came to me as I listened to a song on the local Christian radio station. I don’t know the name of the song, but the words (sung to God) go like this:

If I know you, and I think I do, you’ll turn this day into a perfect surprise.

I remembered that I am not a finite being, nor am I limited to a finite number of deep blue skies. However many days I spend (or even waste) in this life, I have an unlimited number of better days to enjoy to the full in heaven. I had been thinking as though this life was all there was … and it changed my perspective when I began to think in terms of the spiritual reality I enjoy. The real tragedy is not in losing this day in terms of personal gratification or material gain … it is in making this day spiritually useless. If I work all day in a way that honors and obeys God’s current will for me, then the day is surely redeemed. God promises that He will return a hundred-fold anything that we give up for Him. Call me greedy, but I’m hoping for a lot more than 100 blue-sky days in exchange for each of these that I am missing.

This kind of thinking changes the way that you protect your time from the depredations of others, and makes you more available to minister. I can afford to help you move to a new house, or can take the time to listen to your troubles, because I am on the eve of a permanent vacation in the best of resorts with all the people I love most.

For many people, the days and weeks before a long vacation can be very stressful. There are projects to be handed over, e-mails to be sent out, details to nail down. But with respect to Eternity, when God calls me home, I can go right away! There is nothing in particular that I have to accomplish between now and when I go to be with Jesus … the hard work has already been done. Without minimizing my responsibilities in this life or my desire to qualify for the very best beach cabana, I’m mostly just hanging around until my vacation begins.

I missed the shuttle to the ferry dock today, and then the next ferry was late arriving. Just now, they have announced that the other ferry is late leaving the Bainbridge terminal, and so we are further delayed. No doubt the express bus will have gone, and I’ll be even longer getting to my car. And of course I’m low on gas, so I’ll have to stop on my way home. All this means that instead of getting home at 7:30, I’ll probably walk through that door just before 9:00 … just time enough to check my e-mail and post this blog entry before I head for bed at 10:00 pm.

Ha. I just got home at 9:20 … there was construction on the bridge to top it all off … I lost another 35 minutes. But for some reason I don’t mind. The sun is still shining, and my family seems to be doing OK even though I’m rarely home. Whether I’m killed on the way home tonight or live to be 95, these days will seem like a passing shadow compared to the millenia I will spend in Heaven with my Lord. I hope to see you there!

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