The Time Between

As my car approaches the flag person standing in the sun, and I see the bulldozers working, my blood pressure begins to climb. A stab of pain runs down my back when I step on the brake and the cars line up behind me. I hate waiting in line.

“Come on, come on,” I mutter, “Time’s a wasting.”

Last week I read an article about lost moments. It stated that in our life time we will spend a total of five years waiting in line. Five years give us a wealth of opportunity for angry words and deep sighs. Five years is a long time to rail at slow cashiers, and complain about the bank clerks that are off having lunch, or blame ourselves for picking the wrong line. In our life time, we have five years to deepen the pathways of frustration and impatience in our brain. Just think we each have five years to add to the world’s pool of hostility. Is that truly what we want to do with our lives?

We hunch our shoulders in disgust and reply, “No, of course not, but what else can we do? We have no control over our time spent in line.”

I offer you this alternative. The next time you are in line take control of your thinking. Give your resentment, your worry about being late, your frustration to God. Then say thank you for this unexpected “time between”. Look at the people and the world around you. What beauty is there to see? Offer a prayer of concern for the bank clerk who is working under the stress of so many people waiting. Pick a person in the line and ask for a special blessing just for them. Still in line? Pray for peace in the world. Keep your thoughts focused on goodness and compassion. It is your choice. You can use this “time between” to add to the love and joy in this world, or the anger and resentment. Remember, the “time between” is important.

“Whatever happens conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians:1:27

Close Up Living

My son and his family gave me a neat picture. In large block letters across a white background is printed “GRANDKIDS”. Within each letter is a picture of one or more of our grandchildren. From across the room I can see the colourful word, GRANDKIDS. Up close, I see our grandchildren as individuals, laughing, building a snowman, hugging each other.
That picture reminds me of a phenomenon of life. When we look out of an airplane window, we see miles and miles of orderly fields, tree tops, lakes, rivers, mountains and even cities set out in brilliant colours, a tapestry that seems to roll on forever. When we’re on the ground we see flowers and weeds, refuse and pristine parks. From a distance the world is beautiful. Up close, it retains its beauty, but also exhibits its flaws and its character.
The same thing happens with people. From a distance, those of a different culture or ethnic variety all look the same; they become “those” people. Up close, those same people become my neighbour, my daughter’s friend, my son-in-law, my minister. Up close, we can’t ignore the fact that they are God’s precious children. When the enemy has a collective name like “terrorist,” it is easy to hate them. When he becomes an individual like you and me, who loves his family and struggles to provide for them, understanding and a desire for change begin to creep in.
Jesus dealt with individuals, not the faceless crowd. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, to the man with leprosy, to the little boy who offered his lunch, to the bent over woman. Jesus taught us to love our neighbours just as they are.
When we open our eyes and hearts to see people up close and accept them, we take a small step towards building a world of peace and love.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Luke 10:27
Close Up Living
(322 words)

My son and his family gave me a neat picture. In large block letters across a white background is printed “GRANDKIDS”. Within each letter is a picture of one or more of our grandchildren. From across the room I can see the colourful word, GRANDKIDS. Up close, I see our grandchildren as individuals, laughing, building a snowman, hugging each other.
That picture reminds me of a phenomenon of life. When we look out of an airplane window, we see miles and miles of orderly fields, tree tops, lakes, rivers, mountains and even cities set out in brilliant colours, a tapestry that seems to roll on forever. When we’re on the ground we see flowers and weeds, refuse and pristine parks. From a distance the world is beautiful. Up close, it retains its beauty, but also exhibits its flaws and its character.
The same thing happens with people. From a distance, those of a different culture or ethnic variety all look the same; they become “those” people. Up close, those same people become my neighbour, my daughter’s friend, my son-in-law, my minister. Up close, we can’t ignore the fact that they are God’s precious children. When the enemy has a collective name like “terrorist,” it is easy to hate them. When he becomes an individual like you and me, who loves his family and struggles to provide for them, understanding and a desire for change begin to creep in.
Jesus dealt with individuals, not the faceless crowd. Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, to the man with leprosy, to the little boy who offered his lunch, to the bent over woman. Jesus taught us to love our neighbours just as they are.
When we open our eyes and hearts to see people up close and accept them, we take a small step towards building a world of peace and love.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Luke 10:27

Platters
Diet gurus tell us the best way to diet is to use a smaller plate. When Tom and I went to Beijing, China a few years ago, my son and his wife took us to a local restaurant, where the local Chinese villagers eat. The table was set with four tiny plates, each about four inches in diameter. The food was served in five small bowls. Tom and I frowned. Is this all? The bowls were passed and we took a tiny portion from each bowl. Our plates were full. The food was delicious. The bowls were passed again and again until they were empty. To our surprise, we had feasted and we were satisfied.
In North America many restaurants serve the food on “platters”. We smile with appreciation as the waitress sets before us, the “platter” almost overflowing with food. Our response – “Wow, now that is value for our dollar.” The problem comes when the meal is over, and a third of this delicious food returns to the kitchen garbage pail. Those of us who manage to eat it all complain about feeling stuffed and worry about gaining weight.
Think about the messages the “platter” gives us.
Wasting food is normal.
Greed is the way to get value for our money.
Eat more than you need, after all you’ve paid for it.
Scientists tell us that there is enough food produced in the world today to provide everyone, yes everyone, with at least 2,730 calories each day. The world’s agriculture produces 175 more calories per person today than it did thirty years ago, despite a seventy percent population increase. (International development research Centre). There really is enough food for everyone if it was distributed evenly. Platters for those of us blessed to be born in North America is not distributing the food evenly.
There is a restaurant chain in Montreal that serves only buffet meals. Once again, we are encouraged to eat as much as we want, but here there is a difference. In small print on the bottom of the menu is the message: “Each night the left over food from this buffet is given to soup kitchens across the city.” Now that truly is value for our dollar..
The next time you pull up to the table in a restaurant or at home, think on these things.

A Living Example

Today, I was reminded of my friend Margaret Murphy, who died several years ago. Marg knew all about living life well. Laughter followed her everywhere she went. She was never too busy to read a good book, enjoy a good meal shared with others, or learn something new. Marg had time for conversation with her friends and with God. She knew how to say thank you. Even when she was fighting to breathe, a smile would cross her face as she thanked a nurse or one of us for some small act of love and care. Her life was a lesson for me in following the way of Christ. She lived totally, every moment of her life.
We are all given the same twenty-four hours each day. How do we use them? I tend to hate wasting time sleeping. Yet sleep is God’s gift, given to enable our bodies to rest and repair after a strenuous day. Without sufficient and regular sleep, our bodies will eventually malfunction.
Many of us today, don’t think there is time to sit and eat a quiet meal. We gulp down fast food or even if we eat a more nutritious meal, we sit in front of our computer or the television. The ability to eat is God’s gift given so we will have fuel for living.
Often we don’t have time for exercise. There’s just too much to do and too little time. We forget that God has designed our bodies so that they need to move in order to remain supple and work well for us.
We know these things about our physical being and yet we ignore them.My friend Marg taught me not to ignore the things I need for healthy relationships with other and with God. She modeled a touch of love, small acts of kindness, saying thank you, an enthusiasm for every opportunity. She knew that these are the exercises that keep us young and filled with a passion for living.