Keeping Time

by Rev. Dr. Rick Jordan

This weekend, we have the opportunity to once again “spring forward.” This includes the spring ritual of changing the time on our clocks. It is wonderful fun, of course.

How many clocks do you have in your house? As I sit in my home office, I have a computer and an extra monitor that shows me the time, date, and weather. As I walk through the hallway, there is a clock on the wall. In the bathroom, I have a travel clock that is near the faucet. In the kitchen, there is a clock on the wall, a clock on the stove, and a clock on the microwave oven. In the living room, I have one of those large-lettered old-person clocks that tell the time, date, day, and period of the day (morning, noon, afternoon, evening, etc.) In the bedroom, there is a clock on my bedside table as well as on my wife’s bedside table. And, I wear a watch and have a cellphone with its ever present clock and timer.

With all of these timepieces, you’d think that I am always aware of my time, so I am always on time for appointments. And, you would be wrong. In my head, I know that “early is on time and on time is late.” In my heart, I hate that some people see tardiness as a character flaw. In my soul, I know that I am a beloved child of God regardless of my schedule – but I still feel rushed, anxious, and sinful when I arrive after a meeting begins. Tardiness must have been what Paul was talking about when he said, “The thing I know to do, I do not do and the thing I want to do, I just can’t seem to do because there is always one more thing to do.” (Not a direct quote.)

I’ve actually found Bible verses that seem to condone procrastination. Psalm 24:14 could be a life verse: “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Substitute “me” for “the Lord ” and that could be the verse at the top of every meeting agenda chaired by a late-arriver.

I suppose it could be argued that God procrastinated in having Sarah give birth to Isaac. That was a long time after the promise was made. Then, there is the story of Abraham negotiating with God to put off the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Maybe being late is even a reflection of the image of God. God is frequently described as “longsuffering,” meaning God is willing to give time and space for persons to repent and renew their covenant with God. Is that a form of holy procrastination?

Believe it or not, there is a patron saint of procrastinators, St. Expeditus. Yes, as in expedite – to make something move as quickly as possible. The story goes that God was moving Expeditus to repent and convert. The devil, disguised as a crow, spoke to Expeditus and nearly convinced him to put off his decision for a day. Then Expeditus stomped the bird to death and became a Christian. Your typical conversion story. More about St. Expeditus

Still, this saint story does not affirm procrastination, does it? It’s like the Church is trying to trick us late comers into moving more expeditiously. Is there no one in all of Christian history who began every meeting with, “Sorry I’m late, but [possibly justifiable excuse]”?

So, people like me are still waiting for the Church to expedite a blessing for the beloved late arrivers. We’ve been waiting 2000 years. It’s okay, though. We totally understand and we’ve got plenty of time.

These thoughts are from Rev. Dr. Rick Jordan, our partner based out of Lewisville, North Carolina. He is a 20+-year member of Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC where he leads an adult Bible study, serves as a deacon, as Personnel Council chairperson, and on the Vision Navigation Team. He has also served in various roles from local churches to state and national leadership. Contact him for more information on how our partner can help you.

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