Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lessons from the Timer

One of the joys of living in a home with 3 women (other than the exercise I get while treading water in a bottomless sea of estrogen) is being constantly amazed at how long they can take in the shower. Seriously, I think Global Warming isn't happening from carbon or any of that other stuff; it's happening because of all the steam escaping from homes where women spend so much time in the shower. And I've discovered that this isn't limited just to adult women; it's a trait that's shared by women-in-training as well. Like Lily. I love my Lily-bug; coolest kid around. But she could spend all day in the shower. It was getting to be quite a problem because she likes to shower in the mornings rather than the evenings but was taking so long she was consistently late for school. And it's hard to explain to teachers why your kid is late when you only live 2 blocks from the school. So we finally settled on a solution; the good old fashioned kitchen timer. We set it when she gets in the shower and it when it goes off, she knows it's time to get out. The first few times were kind of tough, especially since she still had soap in her hair. But we told her to toughen up and she would be fine.
As I was setting her timer this morning (and yes, we have to set the timer for her as she isn't fully awake until about 20 minutes after her shower), I was struck by the thought that we're all on a timer. There is a limited amount of time we're given. And the funny thing is, we don't know how much time it is. It would be nice if we knew how many minutes were on our timer, wouldn't it? I don't mean in a morbid way, I just mean that we would be more focused on what matters. We would give ourselves to the things that have significance rather than wasting some of our precious minutes and hours on stupid, inconsequential things.
In Psalm 90:12 we read, "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Wisdom comes when we learn to number our days; not try and affix a specific amount of time to our lives, but realize we are given but a finite time here. This life will not last forever. And so the choice before is simple; what will we do with the time we have? And don't misunderstand, this isn't a "You better repent before you die" kind of post-although you should. This is just a reminder that the years we're given aren't infinite; that the moment you're in your life won't last forever; that the season you're in will one day pass. One day my kids will be grown and gone; some days I wish for that. But when that day comes, will I look back on how I spent my time with them and be proud? Or will I look back with regret? Will I look back on how I treated others and be content? Or will I be filled with remorse for stupid words and thoughtless actions? And most of all, when I look back on how I regarded my Savior, will I be able to say that I kept the faith and ran the race? Or will I look back and see that I shamed my King?
Our lives are on the timer, so to speak; you may have decades yet to live, and I hope you do. I hope I do. But I may not. If not, what am I doing today that matters? What am I doing now that will last? Am I numbering my days? Or am I wasting them?
Father, thank You for the gift of life. Thank You for granting me the years I've had. Help me to remember that those years are finite, that there will come a day when the timer of my life will run out. Help me to live in such a way that when that day comes I won't be ashamed, I won't be sad. Rather, I'll be able to rejoice in Your provision, and look back with gratitude on how You led me to spend my days wisely. Help me to do what matters in regards to my family, my church, and most of all, in regards to You, my King. Amen.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Cold Feet and Selfish Hearts

The other night Lily and Emma had a classic fight, one that's been had by anyone who's ever had to share a bed with someone who has really cold feet. First, a little background. When we lived in Hermitage the girls shared a room but had separate beds. We had stackable bunk beds and for a while that worked great; it stopped working great the day I walked into their room and saw Owen, who was 1 at the time, standing on the top bunk, with his back towards the ladder. Needless to say, the stackable bunks were quickly unstacked. When we moved to Gurdon, though, there wasn't room in the girls' bedroom for both beds (one was a twin bunk, the other a futon). So we just let them share a full size bed-an arrangement with which Emma was thrilled and Lily, being way too cool to share a bed with her kid sister, hated. Nevertheless, here we are.
So as I was tucking them in, fixing covers and all that, Lily said, "Emma, get your feet off me!" Apparently in place of feet, Emma had two toddler size blocks of ice attached directly beneath her ankles. Emma replied, "But my feet are cold and you're warm!" Who hasn't had this argument, right? Cold feet are pulled, as though by gravity itself, towards a source of warmth-which is generally the person with whom you share your bed. Kelly and I have had this argument on several occasions (by the way, she's got the coldest friggin' feet in history; some nights I think she dips them in liquid nitrogen before coming to bed-love ya, babe!)
Now here's the point of this seemingly incoherent rambling; Emma and Lily's spat demonstrates the selfishness that resides in all our hearts. Outwardly we can be pretty good, can't we? We can say the right things, do the right things, smile when we're supposed to, cry when we're supposed to, etc. But inwardly, we are wicked. We fit the description that Jesus used of the Pharisees when He called them 'white-washed tombs'-pretty on the outside, full of decay and rot on the inside. And don't misunderstand; putting cold feet on someone isn't a crime worthy of death or anything, but it demonstrates the way we want to put ourselves first. Emma gave no thought to the discomfort she might cause Lily; her only concern was herself (I'm not bashing my kid, by the way, so keep your comments to yourself; she's 4, she's learning; I'm just illustrating a point). And that's exactly how many of us live. Our only concern is ourselves. We want what's best for us and we want it right now.
Don't believe me? Think back to the last time you got stuck behind someone who was going about 20 miles per hour below the speed limit, and wouldn't move over so you could pass. Did you think, "I'm sure they have a good reason, perhaps they don't notice me; I'll simply be patient"? Or did you begin to conjugate new verbs, and wish a pox and pestilence on them? We focus on ourselves, don't we? And that's the opposite of what Jesus has commanded us to do. In Philippians chapter 2, we're implored to think of others first. Verses 3-4 read, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Now what's remarkable is that the very next verse tells us to have the same attitude as Jesus; which means that vs3-4 describe in part what that attitude was. No matter what you think about Jesus and Christianity, you've got to admit that the world would be a much better place if everyone did that. Imagine a place where we thought of others first rather than ourselves. That's exactly what we're called to do. How often do I obey this command (and it is a command, by the way, not a suggestion)? How often do I instead focus on myself? Jesus calls me to a life of self-denial; to put the needs and desires of others above my own. Will obey? Or will I continue to put my cold feet on others?

Father, forgive me for my selfishness. Forgive me for putting my self above others. Forgive me for not following Your example. Help me to have the mind of Christ regarding others. Help me walk in Your ways rather than my own. And by my obedience, may the world get a glimpse of Your incredible, self-less love; a love that led you to the cross to pay for my sins.