Tonight I was at a party celebrating the 40th anniversary of some dear friends. They greatly helped me out when I needed it a couple of years ago. Coincidentally, there were about 40 people there tonight. (I didn’t count, but it is a reasonable estimate.)
Tony and Felicity have hardly wasted their lives. They have worked together to build a strong business, a series of books, a global house church ministry, and dozens if not hundreds of house churches. Somewhere in all of that, they raised four amazing children to adulthood, all of whom are successful in their many ventures, including seven grandchildren with one more on the way. They have lived generously and graciously, and I have been blessed to come under the radiant shadow of those blessings.
At the party was a lot of visiting, feasting on fajitas, toasts, cake, slideshow of their lives, and prayer over them. At one point, after having people show their gratitude and praise, I reflected on how much of their lives they have eagerly given to others, yet without diminishing their own relationship. I think it is how they have worked so well together inviting others into their lives. I don’t think they even view it as “giving their time.” Rather, it comes across as living life together with people. If you give your time away, there is a sense of having lost it, of not being able to do what you want to do with it.
With them, one gets a sense that they are with you in the moments you are together. It is a gift to have that time with them, don’t get me wrong. Yet, I get the feeling they view that time as part of what their lives are supposed to be, as opposed to a deviation from “the plan,” even when unexpected. It has been amazing to watch them up close (I lived with them for about 14 months), to see how many things they do and are involved in, yet how they have and make time for recreation, rest, and on the whole not overcommitted. I still haven’t figured out how they manage it. Don’t get me wrong, they do get tired, and sometimes a little overwhelmed, but the graciousness, peace, and serenity with which they deal with it is a stark contrast to my frustration and impatience over much less.
I am convicted, as I think on this, of how often I view interruptions as stealing time from me; of how I can hint at my impatience with students implying how I am giving my time to them rather than living life with them for the time our paths are parallel.
We all leave a legacy behind in our footsteps. Will it be one showing the patience and serenity of an eternal perspective, or one of a time miser?