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I knew something had to change the day I grumbled at my 4-year-old for studying a caterpillar on the sidewalk.
We were about to head to swim lessons when I realized I’d forgotten my purse in the house. I told my daughter to wait on the driveway, and I’d be right back.
When I returned moments later, my curly-haired girl was nowhere to be found.
I eyed the swing set, peeked between the towering pine trees and checked in the garage.
We’re gonna be late, I ranted silently as the tension of haste settled heavy between my shoulder blades. Finally, I spotted Lizzy squatting on the sidewalk just beyond the driveway.
“Mommy, look what I found,” she crooned, her blue eyes sparkling with awe.
I raced to her side and spotted a fuzzy orange caterpillar in the shadow beneath her knees. I forced a smile, then tugged at her arm, urging, “We need to go.”
“Just a minute,” Lizzy pleaded. “This caterpillar’s gonna turn into a butterfly. And I really wanna see a miracle.”
I sighed and prodded her once more with a gentle nudge. “We don’t have time for miracles today,” I grumbled, scooping up my girl and carrying her to the minivan.
I buckled my little caterpillar-spy into her car seat and sped across town toward the pool.
The dashboard clock taunted me; worse yet, the eyes in the rearview mirror haunted me. Those eyes that had been alight with wonder now waned dim with glassy tears.
“I thought you liked swimming lessons,” I harrumphed, trying to ignore the silent streams of sorrow zigzagging down my daughter’s cheeks.
“I do,” Lizzy replied, her voice small and strained. “But hurry makes my heart hurt.”
A familiar lump of sadness rose in my throat.
In an attempt to give my kids opportunities to learn and grow, I’d packed our days with good things — art classes and swimming lessons, church programs and playgroups. But lately, even those good things had lost their glimmer. Our schedule was full, but my heart ached with emptiness.
When we arrived at the aquatic center, I settled on the edge of the pool to watch. The instructor stood in the water and beckoned Lizzy to swim to his side.
My daughter took a deep breath, dunked her head and kicked with all her might. At first she moved toward her teacher with impressive speed, but then she began to flail. Her torso sank and she yelped in fear.
The teacher lifted my trembling girl out of the water and held her steady. “Slow down,” he chided as Lizzy gulped for air. “You were moving so fast you forgot to breathe!”
The image of a fuzzy orange caterpillar flashed through my mind, and my stomach lurched with conviction. Though a haze of unsolicited tears blurred my vision, suddenly I could see clearly.
In the midst of all our hurry, I’d forgotten to leave time for our souls to breathe. We had no time for lingering on sidewalks or pausing to help a friend in need. We had no time for delighting in God’s Word or savoring a sunset. And in the words of a frenzied mom, we had no time for miracles!
Psalm 90:12 reminds us that life is a gift to use wisely–
“Teach us to number our days so that we may truly live and achieve wisdom.” (The Voice)
We’ve been created for more than just counting our days. We’ve been created to make our days count.
To merely tally time doesn’t require much forethought, but to truly live requires Spirit-inspired wisdom. Maybe that’s why the psalmist approaches God with a humble heart and implores, “Teach us to number our days …”
While the Bible doesn’t contain a template for perfect time management, this simple prayer reminds us that God alone knows the best rhythm for our lives. He knows how to direct our time without draining our souls. He knows how to establish our pace without hurting our hearts.
If we want to truly live, we must seek His vision as we set our schedules.
And as we learn to number our days, we just might discover that we have margin for miracles.