“Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity? So the last will be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:15-16).
Much of my life I have come seemingly or nearly late to many events or in figuring out many things in life. I recognize a pattern in my life of being late, being behind the 8-ball, catching on seemingly later than most everyone else about many things, missing out on many other things.
For example, I nearly missed the start of my 1981 high school graduation ceremony at because of car trouble on the way. The car trouble magnified post-graduation, and I missed a graduation party with fellow believers, bringing great disappointment on one of the most important evenings of a person’s life.
It took me nearly two years to figure out my major/minor as a student at Oklahoma Baptist University. It took me an extra semester to finish required OBU course work. When I graduated, most of my close friends already had jobs, and some were married. Though I interviewed for several jobs in proximity to graduation, I kept hearing that dreaded response: “You show great potential, but we need someone with experience.” Late again for the job market. And, no one yet to whom I could give my heart and with whom to share my life in marriage. I moved back home to Tulsa with no job and no prospects.
A month later I met Eileen. We courted for a little over a year. I was nearly late for the beginning of our wedding ceremony, having forgotten the ring and running full-tilt in my tuxedo in Oklahoma’s August heat to retrieve the ring from my car’s glove box, arriving back to the church building drenched in sweat. (Eileen married me anyway!)
After we were married, we wanted to have a year or two as newlyweds together before having any children. When we started trying to conceive, nothing happened for many years. We were diagnosed with unexplained infertility. We were late to the game of life, this time with broken hearts and empty arms.
But finally, after nine years and multiple doctor visits, our firstborn, Nathan, entered the world on Dec. 23, 1996, and we brought him home on Christmas night. He was an infinitely better present than any of the gifts under the Christmas tree at our residence as we brought him home that night. Thankfully and miraculously, Tim, Heather, Stephen, and Seth were born without any doctor’s help.
Having served with IMB for 17 years, and recently having accepted IMB’s early retirement option, we have returned to our beloved Oklahoma and Oklahoma Baptists. The economy seems to be struggling and, quite frankly, we feel caught in between the ‘now and the not yet’ with one foot in heaven and one foot on this earth.
We find ourselves again trying to find our way, unsure of ourselves and of what we are supposed to be doing with our lives. Looks like I may be late again, Lord.
But thankfully God is never late. Even when it feels to me like I just showed up for work at the eleventh hour—right before closing time.
Yet recalling the words of Max Lucado: “your blocked door doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. Quite the opposite. It’s proof He does.”