Mr. Payne taught me junior high school history. Like most junior high students, I don’t remember much about learning history, but I do remember learning something about life I will never forget. Mr. Payne was incredibly consistent. Every day, five minutes before class ended, he would say “Alright people, if the creek don’t rise and the Lord don’t return, I’ll see you tomorrow with homework in hand.”
Every day. “If the creek don’t rise and the Lord don’t return . . .” What did that have to do with history or with junior high?
My history teacher’s name was Mr. Payne, ironically. Pain often teaches us, but instead of learning from it, we try to escape it.
2014 is almost history . . . the few remaining grains of sand are slipping through the hourglass. Last I checked, the creek didn’t rise and the Lord didn’t return. Looking back on this year, were you mentally present or absent as life unfolded each day?
Presence vs. Absence
If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t make the honor roll in 2014 . . . in fact, I barely passed. I wanted to skip class most of the year, but the Principal (that would be God) had other plans. I know because we met often. It was a full classroom . . . my husband, four of our five kids between ages 16 and 24, and me. I have special needs along with my son, which calls for a special teacher—just sayin’.
- In January, three of the four had major medical issues.
- By February, I had more doctors than family members on speed dial. I had been to the drug store so many times, I was tempted to invite the pharmacists to family gatherings.
- By April, I was showing up to life but wasn’t totally present.
- By late May, I made an official, necessary appointment with the Principal to file several complaints and offer some recommendations (as if . . .); then I went back to wish away the days.
In all the wishing, things went from hard to harder . . . as did my heart.
In the classroom of life, there is no summer break. I entered the fall wondering where time had gone. My daughter planned to marry in November, and I did not want her memories of her remaining days living at home to be negative. She had endured enough doctor visits, emergencies, and my mood changes.
Don’t Waste the Gift of Time
Then I read Abandonment to Divine Providence, the work of 17th century French Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade. His writing is a call to live every minute as a divine gift of grace from God. Simply, to be PRESENT—not passively despondent—in life’s moments is to be an aware, active participant because we do not know how much time we have on this earth. Time is a gift. Let me state it again: time is a GIFT! Each moment has been appointed for our lives, which means no matter how we define it—good, bad, comfortable, uncomfortable, wanted, unwanted—God’s providential hand has allowed that moment for a purpose in our history.
If we want our history to matter, we must show up in the present—fully, completely, thoroughly—or we may miss God’s hand of providence and His grace. I wonder how many times I missed the Spirit’s touch; how many drops of divine goodness fell that were saturated in mercy, joy, delight, rest, hope, peace.
As long as the “creek don’t rise and the Lord don’t return,” what kind of history are you writing? Are you aware that this moment may be your last? What would your kids, your mate, your friends say if they read your story? In spite of the circumstances, make every single moment of 2015 priceless. Ask the Lord to help you stay focused in the present and to find meaning in each moment He gives by His grace.
Let Me Hear from You
How have you spent 2014? Do you have any regrets? Would you do anything differently? What are you going to do to stay present in every moment of this upcoming year?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
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