Somewhere around the time I gave birth to my one and only perfect child, I began running late to literally everything. Now mind you, I did not say I was late to everything. I was/am always just dangerously close to it.
It wasn’t until one day that I was blessed by a message at Living Waters Church that I decided to accept my (near) tardiness to work, school, meetings, hair appointments, most likely my own funeral, etc. as a blessing. Or maybe it wasn’t about accepting it so much as it was just acknowledging the reality that I didn’t have to beat myself up over arriving at exactly the minute everything is due to begin. I may have even decided to give others permission as well.
See, Pastor Gary (one of my favorite people in the whole entire world) decided to share the reason behind posting the service start time as 10:01 on the sign posted near the road of this sweet little meeting place in Hastings. I had caught it in the past and figured it was similar to our old youth group approach to ensuring kids would arrive on time to an event; communicate a super off-the-wall time and surely, the kids would come. Sort of like if you build it … but not. Stating that we needed to meet at church at 7:26 was our way of creating a sense of punctuality. We knew for sure that telling students to arrive at 7:00 surely meant 7:15, for example.
Turns out though, it isn’t meant to have butts in seats at 10:01. I mean, everyone likes the butts in the seats at the stated time but what if, just what if, there’s something more important going on? It’s quite possible that someone (or multiple someones) need the pastor’s heart that morning and while it would be nice to start on the hour, if we start a few minutes late, it’s for good reason. Hearts may be sharing pain. Prayers for healing might be in process. And well, the other reality is that Pastor Gary might just be grabbing a real cup of joe. I appreciate a man who likes good coffee.
I talked to my chiropractor about this recently. I asked him if he’d heard about the woman who died after an adjustment and not surprisingly, he had. He said he’d been doing this for over 20 years though and at roughly 10 (or whatever crazy number he said … I was worried he was going to give me a stroke) patients per day, he didn’t want me to worry. I told him, ‘now, let’s be real. you’re typically running late so let’s just drop that number down by a couple per day shall we?’ He laughed and agreed that he can often be behind during the course of the day and that it’s typically a result of his very first patient running late and then, well, you know how that goes for every.single.other.person on the schedule. He also said, though, that sometimes a patient needs additional care and he hopes his other patients would understand. In fact, in one case, his focus on one little girl led to the discovery of a tumor on her femur. Seriously. I think I can relax the noose on his tardiness in that case.
I don’t try to be late. But, I’m also not going to continue to lose my mind over Connor forgetting his backpack (again!) as we walk out the door. He will only forget his backpack so many times before he is too cool to even carry one. Or, if someone is late to a meeting because they had to find two spare minutes to eat for the first time that day. (Just don’t bring your stinky food into my meeting room!) It’s just not worth it.
The reality is we’re all on a schedule. We only have so many hours in the day to fit in all the things. And guess what? Sometimes we won’t have planned enough time to get from point A to point B. And that’s O.K. And sometimes, someone is going to need us and it’s going to mean that everything else runs behind as a result. And it’s fine. And actually? More important and likely, life-giving.
I love that church starts at 10:01. I love that I had the opportunity to hear about why. And I love that the message sunk in to the extent that I can better prioritize what truly matters because when I stand in front of the Lord someday, I doubt he’s going to begin by reprimanding me because I showed up late. My hope is that He’ll simply say, ‘I’m glad you made it.’