I live and breathe by a schedule. My planner (I just converted back to paper) covers the year, month and day. I put the major events on my Google calendar just for backup. Without a doubt, that is the fruit of being raised by two military parents. Every trip had a departure time as well as ETA. We had food and drinks for two days (even if it was only a 6 hour trip) and we had set times to stop along the way. This is the life I know and to be honest, I love it. But as the saying goes, “life doesn’t always go according to plan.”
This past Sunday truly reminded me of that. As is the schedule every Sunday, we gather with our faith community at 10:45 am downtown. Because we live downtown, it takes all of 5 minutes to get there. Not this past Sunday. If I remember correctly, it was about 11:15 am when we arrived. At the end of the service, I met a gentleman trying to get back on his feet. We went to lunch and he shared with my wife and I about serving 14 years in prison, how he is going through a treatment program, and how his wife is elsewhere in the state getting help as well. So we did what we knew to do; we began to connect him to resources and write down phone numbers and addresses and plot a course. We were right on time.
Then Sunday night came. We were scheduled to be at a neighbor’s house at 6:30 pm for the Superbowl. The overarching goal was to invite people who we might not have a chance to interact with and get to know on a regular basis. Our neighbor took that mission literally. A gentleman riding his bike down the sidewalk received an invitation to come in and get a plate of food. We arrived not long before this invite, but still about an hour past when we should have been there. As he began to engage in conversation, it became clear there were some mental conditions present. (Sidenote: He did show clarity when playing “Lean On Me” on the piano. Breath taking.) He began to collect some food to take home and asked me for a ride. I gladly agreed and we went outside to leave. After remembering that he had his bike there, we conversed for about 5-7 minutes and then he rode off. We were right on time.
Listen, some of you get your kids to school late once in a while or you have to ask the teacher to accept a paper a day late. You might miss a dinner date with friends because of work or feel stressed while sitting in rush hour traffic. We all have a schedule. We all have places to be and days to be there and times to arrive by. Maybe the most important thing isn’t that we are always on schedule. Maybe it is that we are always on time. When a family member requires support, when a friend is seeking encouragement, when someone reaches out to you with a need you can meet that’s when you need to be on time. We have no planner to tell us when our kid will get picked on at school or when a person will ask for work and when a co-worker finds out she has cancer. We just have to show up in those moments. I challenge you (and me) to quit stressing the appointments and start focusing on the encounters. Our lives can only be the better for it.