WE seem to live in an era of lateness. Promptness is often regarded as old-fashioned. If you are late, it just proves what a busy person you are. But for me, habitual lateness began to indicate a lack of love, of consideration for others. If we really care about our friends, we'll make an effort not to inconvenience them by keeping them waiting. Their time and feelings are precious too.
There was a period in my life when I was always late--late for work, late for church, late for concerts, late for social engagements. It came to seem the normal state of affairs, and I did not think of it as a very important failing.
Later, as I studied Christian Science more seriously, I began to see that chronic lateness can indicate not only a lack of respect for others but even a disdain for eternity, for the spiritual reality of being. For if we cannot master time, how can we hope to appreciate the glory of eternity? To begin to discern and appreciate the eternal ``now'' of spiritual perfection, to feel something of the perpetual harmony that God alone imparts, is more difficult to do while we are always pushing what we should be doing now into the future.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``In the figurative transmission from the divine thought to the human, diligence, promptness, and perseverance are likened to `the cattle upon a thousand hills.' They carry the baggage of stern resolve, and keep pace with highest purpose.''1 I saw how unkind I was being not only to others but to myself by always being late.
It was relatively easy to change my habits as I kept uppermost in thought the importance of readiness and earliness. Identifying myself as the offspring of God, who is Love, I saw that it is natural to express love, and therefore timeliness. I saw that we don't have to rush around in order to be on time. The promptest people I know are calm and peaceful. But they don't waste time and they don't procrastinate.
Mrs. Eddy writes: ``The right thinker and worker does his best, and does the thinking for the ages.... He improves moments; to him time is money, and he hoards this capital to distribute gain.''2
There are times when in spite of our sincere efforts to be punctual, some unforeseen occurrence will cause delay. But as prayer becomes more and more an integral part of our day, the orderliness of God's spiritual universe will more naturally be expressed in the form of punctuality and in the natural adjustment of circumstances when this is necessary. It would appear we live in a material universe of time and space. But because the one creator of all is Spirit, His universe is actually spiritual, infinite, without limitations. And man is spiritual, unlimited, subject to the perfect order of divine law. As we come to feel and trust this truth through prayer, events often work out better than would seem humanly possible.
In the parable of the ten virgins3 Christ Jesus pointed out the dangers of unreadiness. The five who were foolish took no oil in their lamps to meet the bridegroom. When the wedding was about to commence, they were unable to borrow oil from the five wise virgins and were forced to go out to buy some. This lack of readiness on their part made them late for the wedding, and when they returned the door was shut.
In today's world we sometimes find the door shut when we are late. But the love and readiness that finds us ``getting there on time'' can open up many doors, many opportunities.
In Revelation we read, ``I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.''4 When we close the door that leads into the closet of selfishness, we can more clearly see that open door of divine Love of which the Revelator spoke. When we go through that door we find the limitations of time and space gradually disappearing and a greater peace and joy filling our lives.
1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 514. 2Message to The Mother Church for 1900, p. 3. 3See Matthew 25:1-13. 4Revelation 3:8. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31