- The Art of Minute-Sparing
The other day I created a spare minute and went for a little stroll through my front garden. I admired the Spring daffodils. But I noticed the spent rose buds. "I should prune those", I said to myself, "when I get a spare minute." Then I recalled my inordinate good fortune - I had just created a spare minute! Realising this extraordinary coincidence, I went to my garage (where I have my gardening things in the corner) and grabbed my pruners. Returning to my rose bushes I attended to their dishevelment. As I was reshaping my rose bushes, I saw some unwanted oxalis (Latin for "pesky weed that annoys Andrew"). I was forced to create yet another spare minute to deal with this intruder. Something then occured to me.James 5:11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
We live in a busy world. Some people love to let others know how busy they are. I don't. I find it almost shameful that I'm so busy at times. Busyness is not a statement of how important I am, as it seems to be for some. Busyness, to me, is a reminder that I need to make some adjustments to how I do life.
Life is not made richer by my busyness. Life is made richer when it is wonderful. It's too easy to see mundane and routine chores, such as pruning rose bushes, as an unwelcomed intrusion into a busy schedule. But there is wonder in a flower that comes from the mundane act of pruning. My life is made a little richer when create a spare minute and wonder about such (so called) simple things.
"Wondrous truths, and manifold as
God hath written in those stars above ;
But not less in the bright flowerets
Stands the revelation of his love.Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Flowers"
This shy intruder into our busyness, wonder, rarely demands our attention. It gently calls to us by inviting us into some activity of micro-maintenance. I didn't have the time to pull all of my pesky oxalis out (I had only created a spare minute). But I did manage to weed a few out. I was micro-mantaining.
As my responsibilities have mounted along life's journey, I have developed the art of micro-maintaining in more areas than just weeding my garden. Spiritually I have come to value those micro-maintenance prayer times, where like Nehemiah (Neh. 2:4) you maintain your sweet fellowship with God in "moments" of prayer - not just seasons. I treasure the micro-maintenance of reading a verse of Scripture and savouring it like the Psalmists so often did (Psalm 119:15).
Second Corinthians 11:28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
There's a great illustration of micro-maintenance in the movie, The Shawshank Redemption. Little by little. Day by day. Here some, there some. And progress is made. Micro-maintenance involves creating as well as maintaining. It can 'create' a spare minute. It can give permission to step out of the HMS Busyness and repair awhile. Micro-maintenance is a slight steering wheel correction that helps us to keep our real priorities in order.
1Cor. 9:24 ¶ Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
If you're daunted by how much there is on your To-Do List, and feel that the only way you can possibly get through it is to neglect those things that should be important - such as prayer, worship, Bible-reading - try some micro-maintenance. You may discover that as you pull weed some oxalis from your life that there is rose bud right in front of you opening up its wonderful blossom. Sometimes all it takes is the creation of a wonder-filled spare minute.
Psa. 34:8 ¶ Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!