Continue reading “Day 29: Time”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.Ephesians 5:15-16
Ask any mom of young children what her ideal Mother’s Day would look like, and if she’s being honest, chances are she’d like an afternoon without her kids. All. By. Herself. I know that doesn’t exactly match the spirit of the day, but moms are already with their young kids the vast majority of the time. Every day is “Mother’s Day.” Moms are always caring for their children, changing diapers, making food, acting as peacekeeper and referee, constantly being interrupted from a task they’d like to accomplish. So the thought of not having to do that for a day actually sounds really nice.
I’m going through something of a mid-life crisis right now. Oh, don’t worry—I’m not running off to buy a cherry-red convertible. I wouldn’t be able to fit all my kids in it anyhow. Nor am I scheduling a facelift quite yet. It’s more of what you might call a time of reflection. Not long ago I attended the funeral of a woman who was twice my age. That was sobering. What if half of my life is already over? Am I living to my fullest potential? Then I thought about my kids. One of them only has four years left at home. Am I teaching him the skills he needs to be a responsible adult? Have I instilled strong morals? a strong work ethic? Have I equipped him to be a faithful witness to a world hostile to the Christian faith? Have I been a faithful witness? Has my life been fruitful and productive? Or have I been selfish with my time?
This weekend you turned 14. Congratulations! You are turning into a young man right before my eyes. You are a bright and talented individual with your own unique personality. I am proud of the young man you are now, and excited to see the man you will become. I suppose it’s only natural at a birthday for a mom to stop and reflect on the passage of time, so indulge me for a few minutes and allow me to impart some wisdom from one generation to the next.
I’m convinced that little to nothing would get done in this world without deadlines. Houses would rarely get cleaned if guests weren’t stopping by, school projects wouldn’t be completed without a due date, and books wouldn’t get published without a deadline from the printer. I don’t know what it is about the human psyche, but we tend not to act until we know our time is limited. I may have a coupon for three months, but it’s not until the day before it expires that I get serious about redeeming it. I can get the hymns for a Sunday service on Tuesday, but it’s a pretty safe bet I won’t even look at them until Saturday night. I can steam mop the entire house in about an hour, but if the kids are in school, I will inevitably drag the chore out to last all day until I’m racing to finish in the final minutes before I have to leave to pick them up. And even though I have all week to write a blog post for Monday, I rarely ever work on it before Sunday afternoon. If I have time to waste, I’ll procrastinate with the best of them. When faced with a deadline, however, it’s time to get serious.
“Over half of the members in this congregation give less than the price of a Happy Meal every week.”
These words were spoken in a sermon about stewardship, and they’ve stuck with me ever since. Churches seem to be perpetually behind budget, nearly always in debt, and is it any wonder? If half of the members are giving $5 or less, how can we expect to sustain our congregations? Granted, this includes all those members “on the rolls” who don’t actually come, but let’s face it––tithing is not a common practice in our culture today. Sure, people can spend money on cable and Internet and cars and sports and lessons and… But church? Tithing is foreign to many people. So as I sat in church that Stewardship Sunday while the pastor discussed giving, I admit I felt a little swell of pride. Ah, I thought to myself smugly, but I DO tithe. I’m a faithful giver. But upon further reflection, I came to a startling revelation. I’m not nearly as generous as I’d like to think I am.
Who can forget the haunting words of Harry Chapin’s 1974 hit song “Cat’s in the Cradle?” As a child I could sing along with the memorable refrain:
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you coming home, dad?” “I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”
Even as a child something about this song got to me. I couldn’t put a finger on it but it made me sad somehow. Perhaps it was the tune, maybe it was Chapin’s voice, possibly even the words themselves, or maybe a combo of all three. Growing up, I “knew” (though didn’t completely understand) that it was about a dad who never really made time for his son, then watched in sadness as his son grew up and had no time for him either. He finally came to the tragic conclusion, “He’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.” (Even as I type this I’m fighting back tears.)
Continue reading “The Cat’s in the Cradle”