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Love and Hurry

Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible.   Love always takes time, and time is the one thing hurried people don’t have.
This quote, written by John Ortberg, a pastor in CA, captures our dilemma.  Hurry seems to be the definition of today’s world.  Before the alarm goes off in the morning, we have a list of things to do that will more than fill our day.  From shopping… to a work call… to a family commitment… there is no end.  We are told that when we retire, we will have more time, more relaxation, more space in the day.  But for many of us, even retirement is hectic.  The demands on our time press in relentlessly.  Even your pastor asks for your time!  So how do we find time to love our neighbor?  Ortberg is right, love always takes time. Some people tell us to ‘make time’, as if we can create more time in the day.  The Bible teaches us that only God is the creator of time, and last I checked, God was only giving out 24 hours each day for us to use.  Others will tell us to ‘find the time’ as if we should go on a scavenger hunt for that illusive resource needed to love our neighbors well.  But the truth is, we cannot ‘make’ time, and there is no more time to ‘find.’  So perhaps what we need to do is take a few things off our to-do list to allow for the time needed to ‘love our neighbor.’
The other day, Greg and I decided to get take-out food from El Limon. We had been so busy that day, we did not have time to make dinner.  I was hungry.  We had waited too long to make the decision about dinner, and El Limon is very popular, so the wait is often long.  When the time came to pick up dinner, I was so hungry, I was ready to eat my shoe.  But as we opened our car doors in anticipation of the dinner waiting for us, our neighbor walked by with her gang of little ones.  This was the moment of decision.  We could just wave and say ‘hi’, or we could do a full stop on our food mission to take time to talk with our neighbor.  My stomach was cheering on the quick ‘wave’ option.  But I knew that I was going to preach a sermon about hurry and time and loving your neighbor… so we stopped… full stop… and went to the curb to visit.  While Greg played with the kids (they adore him), I talked with the mom.  She is on maternity leave after adding #5 to their family line-up.  Her time is almost up, so soon she will have to go back to work as an Emergency Room Nurse.  Her husband just took a new job that takes him to Florida every week, leaving her home alone to juggle the needs of their family.  A few minutes into this conversation, the oldest tugged on her arm asking to go home, and off they went freeing us to get our dinner.  The whole encounter took only a few minutes, but now I know my neighbor just a bit better.  You have to know your neighbor to be able to love your neighbor well.  I’m not sure what to do with all the information I learned that night, but God does.  And when the time is right, I will know, too.

The other day, I was out mowing the lawn.  I wanted to get that chore done before the day was too hot.  I had just started and already I looked like ‘something the cat dragged in.’ (I am not a cat owner, so I have no idea what cats drags in…  but that day I certainly looked like whatever that is.)  Our neighbor across the street parks her car in front of our house because we cannot park on their side of the street.  As I pushed the mower across our front lawn, she made her way to the back of her SUV, opened the trunk and began to rearrange the contents, packing in more gear that she had brought out of her house.  Again, a moment of decision.  I could just wave and allow my ‘hi’ to be swallowed up by the sound of the lawn mower.  Or I could stop, turn off the mower, and chat for a bit.  The temperature was rising… I was tired… and I had a lot of work left to do inside.  But I knew that I was going to preach a sermon about hurry and time and loving your neighbor… so I stopped… full stop… and went to the curb to visit.  It was a simple conversation without any deep revelations, but even the simple moments are important.

I remember baseball season when our kids were little.  During the season, our four kids played on four different fields, for four different teams, at four different times.  My calendar looked like the master schedule for NASA, with all our comings and goings.  And while my children enjoyed playing sports, I found that I had no time to talk to my neighbors as I shuffled everyone from place to place, and our family never had family dinner.  One year, we cancelled baseball season- one of the best decisions we ever made as a family!  Time is a precious gift given to us by God.  How we use that gift impacts our lives and the lives of those around us.  We are always living in the tension between the urgent that is pressing in and the important that is often missed.  Yet, the Creator of Time has a good plan for every second.  I am trying to learn how to trust Him with the time He gives me, so that I can love my neighbor well.

With you, learning how to love my neighbor,

One important note:  Sunday, September 25th will be Alex Erwine’s last Sunday with Lenape Valley Church.  Alex has been a blessing to our youth ministry this year.  At the end of the summer, Alex became engaged to Logan.  Alex wants to find a work/life balance that allows her to spend more time with her fiancé in preparation for their life together.  Please hold Alex and Logan in prayer as they seek God’s direction for their life together.  Join us on September 25th to celebrate Alex’s ministry with us.
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