The other day, while working furiously to meet deadline, I encountered an unwelcomed intruder. On my computer screen, superimposed over my document, was the dreaded Windows’ hourglass. Decades ago, I thought this little icon was adorable, ingenious even. With time, I’ve come to loathe its presence. I didn’t want to stop and wait while some behind-the-screen program corrected or updated itself. I wanted to get my work done, immediately, not in a few minutes.
My shoulders dropped as I released a pent-up sigh of disgust. Propping my elbows up on my desk, I cradled my head in my hands. With eyes fixated on each iconic revolution, I slowly found myself hypnotized, powerless to move. Out of nowhere, there appeared another moving image on my computer’s screen.
Startled, I found myself addressing this collage of humanity and spirit. “What in the world…”
“No, I’m not of this world, Beth.”
“Okay, so what are ya and where’d you come from?”
“I’m the voice of the hourglass you’ve been staring at.”
“Yeah, right. You’re probably a sophisticated virus or Trojan. Oh, no. Did I save my work before you showed up?”
“Beth, your work is okay, which is more than I can say about you.”
At that moment, the hourglass dramatically increased in size, covering almost the entire screen.
Moving my chair away from the desk, I dropped my hands to my lap. Eyeing the off button on my computer tower, I contemplated shutting it down before the virus destroyed my hard drive.
“You can turn it off if you like, Beth. But, I’m not going anywhere until I deliver my message.”
Laughing aloud, I responded in an eerie sounding voice. “Oh no, are you the ghost of Christmas past?”
“Whatever. Just do me a favor, take a good look at the hourglass and tell me what you see.”
On close examination, I realized the ‘sands of time’ inside the hourglass were colored green, red, and yellow. Taking off my glasses, I held them up to the light, thinking they needed cleaning.
“It’s not your glasses, Beth. Each speck of sand in the hourglass represents a moment in your life. The red specks represent the time you’ve spent sleeping. The green specks represent active, productive, enjoyable moments of your life.”
Moving closer to the screen, I asked, “And the yellow ones?”
“They are moments you spent waiting.”
“For what?” My curiosity was piqued.
“Oh, waiting to be old enough, smarter, to graduate, get married, have more money, you’ve had lots of excuses why you were putting off truly living your life.”
“Not excuses, reasons. Anyway, what’s that huge yellow cluster?”
“Oh, those are your Christmas waiting moments.”
“No way!” I scoffed.
“Beth, look closer at that cluster. What do you see?”
“Hey, there are words written on them.”
Squinting, I began to read, “time spent waiting for:
• a chance to write my Christmas to-do-list
• time to clean the house
• assistance at the Christmas tree lot
• a chance to decorate the tree
• gift ideas
• a parking space at the mall
• the sales clerk
• unhurried register lines
• slow traffic
• the UPS delivery
• bank tellers
• more wrapping paper
• grocery store crowds to letup
• the oven timer
• Post Office lines
• an opportunity to read Christmas cards
• better holiday invitations
• the perfect holiday outfit
• hair and nail salon treatments
Okay, okay, so what’s the point here?”
“It’s really simple. Beth, now read the green Christmas specks.”
“Time spent during the holidays:
• reading the Bible
• attending church
• visiting shut-ins
• giving to the needy
• sharing Christ’s love with others
• enjoying my family.”
The green specks were sparse and few compared to the glaring yellow cluster.
Shaking my head, I whispered, “I can’t believe how much time I’ve spent waiting for Christmas instead of participating in what should’ve been the highlight of the year. I haven’t been there for my family or God.”
“Well Beth, remember, there are still unused moments in the upper chamber of your life’s hourglass. How you use them is up to you. You can live them or allow them to slip-by. Looks like your computer finished correcting itself. I’ll leave you to finish your project…Merry Christmas.”
As the hourglass disappeared, I picked up the phone.
“Hi, Mom, how about we pick-up Grandma for a lady’s pre-Christmas lunch like we used to do? I’m serious, work can wait, we can’t.”
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