20 March, Sunday — Time and Tide Wait for No Man

3rd Sunday of Lent

Exo 3:1-8,13-15
1 Cor 10:1-6,10-12
Lk 13:1-9

“…for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?”

These days, with two kids to manage, time has become a precious commodity to me. What’s funny is that many years ago, before I had children, I was always busy with work and ‘life stuff’. Then, I had my first child. And life revolved around our first child for a while. Then, when I found out I was expecting our second child, I wondered how in the world I was going to manage two children when one was already a constant battle — getting him ready for school, sleep, shower, and everything else in between. Now that I have two children, I have found that while it is a real struggle fitting in any of my ‘life stuff’ that I used to do, before-kids, it is not impossible to manage, although it is all about priorities and some things just have to give. I still have 24 hours a day, but boy, do those 24 hours look different from way back when, and do they fly by fast!

Whether you have children or not, or if you’re working one or two jobs or being a stay-home parent, I think we all find that Parkinson’s Law sneaks into our lives ever so easily. Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion”. Our work could be anything – paid work, house chores, minding the kids, even our personal projects. The bottom line is that our time, our precious 24 hours a day, is constantly filled with the ‘busyness’ of our lives. And then, as our plates pile up, we realise that we can’t accomplish everything and wish we had more time. But that’s where the penny drops – time is a commodity that we just can’t get back. The ‘busyness’ in our lives is never really the most important things in our lives, the things that matter most. We get our 24 hours and then it’s gone, and we’re into the next day. Sure, it’s another 24 hours, but it isn’t the same 24 hours. We’re moving forward with time, whether we’re ready to or not.

It is in this realization that I find myself asking not only what have I accomplished, but have I accomplished the most important thing? My life is like a schedule on daily rotation, it is already a huge effort to just try to keep up with it, and most days I operate like a robot on autopilot. But in so doing, it’s so easy to exist and forget to live. What about the goals and habits that I said I would adopt at the start of this year? Have I done anything to move that forward? Have I made a conscious effort to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better breadwinner? Have I improved my mind like I said I would? Have I connected with God like I vowed to do? In all my daily actions, am I moving closer to what God would have me become, or am I moving further away from Him? Am I even bearing fruit?

The awful truth is that time is running out for us. The axe has been sharpened and is hovering dangerously close to the root. God has already said so in today’s Parable of the Fig Tree. If we are not bearing fruit, then we are a waste of “good soil” and should be cut down. It is how we would have done it in our garden, and therefore it is how God will do it in His garden.

But all hope is not yet lost. Jesus, in His infinite mercy, has interceded for us and has bought us some time. Not much, but enough to give us a second chance to repent and redeem ourselves. He has promised to do His part to “cultivate and fertilise” the soil in our hearts. Our part is to take the care and nourishment that has been given us and turn it into something worthwhile, something that Jesus would say, “Here’s something to be proud of! Let us not cut it down yet but tend to it further.” We go about our day living as though time is always on our side. Even if we’re hustling and rushing about, we think that since time is ‘inexhaustible’, we get a second chance the next day. We’ll do it later when we’ve accomplished this thing. We’ll get to this thing when we’re done with that other thing. But time is a gift from God. It is not a reset. Every day is a new day — a new chance to bear fruit, good, healthy fruit. Are we going to fill that chance with the ‘busyness’ of our lives? Or are we going to live each day meaningfully?

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

Prayer: Lord, I ask for Your forgiveness for the slack attitude I have had with the time given to me. I pray for awareness when my attitude falls short, courage to make the change to do something meaningful each day, and strength to move forth. May each day that I live bear fruit and bring me closer to You.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for interceding for me and believing enough in me to give me a second chance to redeem myself. Thank you for caring and nourishing me each day. I know that with Your help, I can make my life worthwhile.     

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