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Hitting Close to Home

{Programming note:  This Saturday I will again be the monthly speaker at the Austin chapter of Reasons to Believe. The topic is “What is Science?” (an exploration of the questions we ask, the history of science, the scientific method and the nature of proof). The meeting is from 10-noon with donuts and coffee at 9:30.

Location:  Hill Country Bible Church, near the UT Campus, 405 W. 22nd Street.
Corner of San Antonio and W. 22nd. They have torn up the paid parking lots west of the church. There may be street parking (metered), or you can try using the parking lot 1 block west at 22nd and Nueces, which belongs to the Scientologists, though they are usually gracious about it, especially at that time of week.}

I discovered an acquaintance is also a blogger, and a recent post is very convicting. It’s about being late and the lies we believe to justify it. Of course, in some cultures, timeliness just isn’t even considered, everyone understands it and they get along fine. But here, we are ruled by time and money, and being late wastes both.

I do struggle with running late, and it is largely because I try to cram too much stuff in before I need to be somewhere, and often don’t leave enough time for delays (traffic, forgetting something (which tends to happen more often when you are running late!), or other issue). As Levi points out, you are either late or you are not, by how little or much is irrelevant.

When others grant us forgiveness for being late, we come to rely on it. We tend to view it as a form of cheap grace, rather than as an opportunity to repent, and this compounds our disrespect of the one(s) we have wronged through our tardiness.
One of the most poignant and costly personal episodes was when I lost an opportunity to pursue a long distance relationship with a really neat woman because I was late to an early morning breakfast with a local friend of hers vetting me—not being a morning person, I severely underestimated Austin rush hour. I was in the wrong and I knew it.

Even so, it is still a struggle for me, though from time to time I do make improvements. It would be nice to simply declare emancipation from our chronologic master, yet there is real value to honoring others’ time.

My pastor in grad school, Mike Pape, remarked one Sunday morning that it is ridiculous for our response to the “how are you” question to be, “tired and busy.” Everyone is tired and everyone is busy. What sort of sympathy should we expect? Being late just compounds busytiredness for everyone, and that contraindicates for sympathy.

There are many pressures, internal and external, on our lives that threaten our control of our time. However, I need to keep reminding myself that I have more control than I think. The key is in setting boundaries, including the boundary of self-discipline, and the boundary of saying no. The hardest boundary for many of us (including me!!) to set is that of protecting personal time, whether recreation or sleep or working out or any of the myriad things that would reduce our tiredness and increase our use of the time we have.

A key symptom of the workaholic, according to my own empirical self-diagnosis, is a lack of productivity in exchange for the myriad hours spent. We don’t get much done, so in our guilt, we throw more time at the problem rather than making the discipline to focus and/or moving on to the next thing and coming back when we are more productive. It is remarkably like throwing money at failing schools rather than finding and solving the problems. Either way, limited precious resources are squandered, and everyone ends up with a bad taste in their mouths.

Hardly the desired legacy of a child of the victorious Lord.


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