Time… past, present, and future

If you happened to read my post on time management (or lack thereof) than you can understand why the below email from Pastor Wayne resonated so deeply within me.

(There’s a lot of mixed feelings knowing that our Pastor will be retiring this summer. In the meantime, be sure to sign up to receive his weekly inspirational emails while you can here.)

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*The below is reposted from Trinity United Methodist Church Pastor Wayne dated 2/24/16.

Dear Friends,

             I sometimes worry that I bore you with my Wednesday morning ramblings but then I remember your ‘delete’ button is just a touch away on your keyboard and the ‘unsubscribe’ button is only a click away at the bottom of the page!   My thoughts today (and probably for the next few months)  have to do with what’s going on in my heart and head as I approach retirement.  Thus the disclaimer in the first sentence!

                My emotions these days are pretty fragile.  I get choked up a lot as I realize these are the ‘last’ of many things.  I made the comment a few weeks ago in my sermon “I have concluded on this, my last time around…” and was admonished by one of my church members to clarify and not make it sound like it’s the end of my life!

                Here’s what is going through my heart and head today.   Gretchen Rubin, in her book  ‘The Happiness project”   writes:   “The days are long but the years are short.” 

              Many of my days are very long.  Sunday is perhaps the longest.  I’m up at 5 AM or earlier, especially if I feel my sermon still needs some work.  (Does a preacher ever NOT feel their sermon needs a little more work??)  Then in the office at 5:30 to go over the sermon a few more times, then greeting people at the door as they arrive for church, then worship and preaching and prayers (three times!), then lots of handshakes and hellos, then often spending the afternoon getting ready for the next week so that I can really take my day off on Monday.

              Yes, it’s a long day.  Much like you and your long days I would imagine.   You’re up before dawn feeding the baby and making lunches.  Out the door as the sun is coming up.  In line at Starbucks waiting for your latte and thinking about everything ahead of you for the next ten hours.  Driving the kids from school to soccer practice to homework to bed.   Writing  texts and opening email and going to meetings.  Rushing home and cooking dinner and loading the dishwasher and finally…finally!…the day is done.  “I sure am glad that day’s over!” we declare.

                But then one day before we know it, there are no more sermons to preach or parishioners to reach or meetings to attend.  Then one day the baby who kept us awake at 3 AM is off to college, no longer pulling on our leg for a cookie or a hug.  No more getting up at the crack of dawn, no more sitting in traffic, no more in-boxes full of email.  We trade the  minivan in for a sensible sedan.  We make dinner for just two or one, watch a movie, catch the news.  And as we finally get ready for bed, another long day is over and we declare  “Where did that day go?!

             However long the day and whatever our day consists of,  what finally matters is how we experience the gift of  the time God has given us… how well, or not so well, we use and embrace that time.   The danger and temptation is to wish for nothing more than to make it to the end of the day.   It’s easy to fall into the trap of asking, even pleading, “Won’t this day ever end?!”

              But here’s the truth.  Today, this day, will never happen again.  When it’s over, it’s over.   It could be a great day or a horrible day or something in between.   It could be long or short or sweet or sour.   But all we have is this one day.   At midnight, the day is nothing  but a memory, the stuff of “remember when…”

              As finite beings, mere mortals, I believe this is the spiritual tension we all face.  We may complain that some days seem to never end.  We may decide when life is full or busy or feels overwhelming with so much to do, that we have to somehow just get through the day.  We may even perceive that with so many days, it all just seems to run together.  As one world weary writer in the Bible said, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)  Sounds like he or she must have had a long day!

                Perhaps there is another way to understand the day… a more grateful  way… to face  each day, especially the very, very long ones.   Listen to this wisdom and prayer:  “Lord, teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.” (Psalm 90:12)  Count the days.  Wake up and wise up to the fact that this is a “never happened before” and “never will happen again” day.  

                 So, how is this day for  you?  Is it a long one?  An exhausting one?   A never -ending one?   A  great one?    

                Well guess what?   One day you won’t have to fight the morning traffic anymore or watch another of your kids’ soccer games anymore or pick up the laundry off the floor anymore or sit through a boring meeting anymore or flop into bed, exhausted, from another day, anymore.  And on that one day you’ll pray for just one more, just one more, long day.  I know I will.

               Indeed:  “The days are long but the years are short”.   Make the most of today.

You are loved,

Wayne

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