Time is so precious isn't it? And sadly so often 'squeezed' these days. We can feel like everything is pressing in on us and that we don't have enough time and head space to process what we need to.
But there is a different perspective on time...
Just take a moment and think about the 24 hours in each day: God created time and decided when the sun would rise and when it would set. He set the concept of days and nights into motion. Time is such an amazing gift from him.
My weeks usually start with me hitting the ground running. My husband takes the kids to school on Mondays, which gives me an extra hour for my time with God and to make a head start with work.
But this Monday was different. I was feeling the effects of a hard previous week, and knew some other friends had been going through difficulties too, so it felt right to go for a morning cuppa. It was so worth it to feel connected to others, and know that we trusted one another enough to be open and honest.
As I was leaving, I thanked God for that morning's gift. I may not have got on top of the week's work and planning, but I felt that I had connected deeply and meaningfully with others.
This is one of the lessons I think God is currently teaching me. He's shaking things up a bit and nudging me with opportunities to interact with others more, giving extra time to relationships. I'm learning not to be so rigid with my timeframes. When I'm able to take an hour or two off, I can now see the joy in doing that. There is something so precious about connecting with another human being, and reaching out in a way that lets each of you know you matter.
Jesus always seemed to have time for people. He was never rushed or snappy because someone was asking for his help (although sometimes his disciples got indignant on his behalf!) There is so much I know I can learn from his pace and rhythm of life.
The concept behind Gary Chapman's bestselling The Five Love Languages is that there are five main expressions of love and we each have a primary love language through which we like to have love communicated to us. Time is one of those five (the others being encouraging words, helpful actions, thoughtful gifts and physical touch).
Gary has a whole series of books based on this idea, including ones for teens, families, couples and singles. Knowing how your friends and family members like to be shown they matter to you is extremely helpful.
So, as I was leaving the café on Monday morning, I was also thinking about how many opportunities I may have missed to show someone else they matter. My Sunday mornings are usually filled up with serving on the worship team, then praying for people. I also try to keep an eye out for new people to welcome, but I can often get home frustrated that, even though we are usually the last to leave, I haven't had the chance to connect with someone I knew was going through a hard time, or that I hadn't spoken to in a while. Then I am concerned that they could think I don't care, which isn't the case at all but I know I haven't shown them.
Even while still at church, I know that I can sometimes – even often – be guilty of looking over someone's shoulder as they are talking to me, as I have spotted someone else I needed to catch making their way towards the door.
So, on the one hand, Monday's opportunity was such a blessing to me, but, on the other, it opened my eyes to how often I may have blown it. Thank God he doesn't hold our mistakes against us!
God has reminded me afresh of how time is a precious gift from him, and how I can use it to connect with others. I wonder if there is a way in which God wants you to celebrate the gift of time today?