So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. – Psalm 90:12 (ESV)
Another digit has rolled over on the odometer. And, yes, I am old enough to remember when numbers actually -literally – rolled over with each tenth-of-a-mile. There was no digital display on the dashboard to tell us how far we have travelled, how much gas we’re going to use, or how long until we get to grandma’s house. (Not that this created a problem for my parents. One of my grandma’s lived in town about 6 miles away, the other was just a walk through a corn field, so my brother and I never really pestered them with the constant “are we there yet?” inquiries as we drove over the river – well, the little stream – and through the woods.)
Time has a funny way of seeming far less constant the older I get. Which is a little cruel, because time seems to be speeding up. Today we took my son to a movie. He sat on my lap for the last half of the show. I looked at his face and could still see my little guy. I patted his back and tried to revel in the moment because, soon enough, he won’t be sitting on my lap anymore. As my wife noted on our way home, he starts middle school in just over three years.
Three years. It will be seven years ago next month he became our son. Seven years ago and I can still close my eyes and walk nearly every inch of Shamain Island from memory. I can feel the subtropical heat and humidity. I can smell the Pearl River. When we go out to Chinese restaurants there are still certain smells that take me back to Guangzhou.
I remember getting up in the middle of the night in our room at the White Swan Hotel, peering down at that beautiful child in the crib and praying, “Lord, please don’t let me mess him up.”
I remember him eating watermelon for the first time – quite an adventure for an 18 month old whose diet had been mainly congee (a gruel made of rice and little bits of chicken with a flavor as flat as a slashed tire).
I can still see him revving up from a waddle to a run on the high gloss floor of the hotel’s lower level, only to wipe out, giggle, get up and do it all over again.
I have so many vivid memories that I could write a book. And perhaps someday I will.
Seven years ago and it feels like yesterday.
How fast will three years go?
I think about my time management skills (I noticed nobody has endorsed me on LinkedIn for time management – and rightfully so). I get older and feel this ever-intensifying anxiety that life is passing me by. We moved to Minnesota so I could become a pastor. All I have to show for it is three college diplomas on my office wall and student loans.
But then I stop and think. I talk with my dear friend Greg, who is in many ways my compass (sorry buddy… I realize that is a cross no human should bear). I look back on my life thus far and I see God’s hand all the way through. It is probably good that I didn’t become a traditional church pastor. The politics of it all would have burned me out faster than a cheap sparkler on the 4th of July.
Had we never come to Minnesota, we would have missed out on a lot of wisdom we’ve learned from failing, falling, getting up again and going.
We would have missed out on some of the closest relationships we have ever formed.
We would have never known how it feels to live in a metro area with so many professional sports teams who play so lousy. (Although, props to the Minnesota Lynx, our WNBA team who know how to rock the court, and the minor league St. Paul Saints, who know how to throw a fun-filled baseball game.)
Most of all, had we never moved to Minnesota, we would never have gotten our son.
God knows what He is doing. He knew it when He moved us to suburban Chicago, and later to Minnesota. He has a plan for us. I can see that. I can’t necessarily see the end of it, but I see that it is clearly there. And He is clearly here.
Ok, so my life hasn’t exactly gone to my plan. Looking back, that is a good thing in more ways than I can count. It means I have a future. I continue to grow in wisdom. I learn to count the days – to be mindful of what’s important and why I’m here. And it has nothing to do with career. It is about who I am because God said so, not because of my plans.
I learn to lean on God. I learn to understand that, when things don’t go my way, it is usually God stepping in to save my sorry bacon.
Had life gone my way, I would be disillusioned, burnt out, and – worst of all – not a daddy. Forget time management. Just trust the Lord with every step and, remember, He operates outside the bounds of space and time. Don’t sweat the clock. Rejoice and be glad in the Lord all of the days He gives you.