Mike and I first heard it at a parenting seminar.
“To a child,” the speaker reminded us, “love is spelled t-i-m-e.”
Maybe I have the spiritual gift of immaturity, but I still spell love that way. Some cite words or touch as their love language, but for me it has always been time. Busyness is the lingua franca of our culture – our common tongue. I speak that language far too fluently, so my ears are attuned to a patois that is far rarer, the one that says no matter how busy I am, I choose to make time for you.
Earlier this month a new friend who is a gifted artist discovered via Facebook that my birthday was the very next day, a Sunday. Pam greeted me in church that morning with a tissue-paper rose card beautifully crafted by hand that she must have had to rise very early to create. I treasure the card, but the time investment it represents is the greater gift.
Last night Mike and I put our daughter Amber and her husband Ben on a plane after their weekend with us. It was hard, as always, to see them go, but I now have on my office door a permanent reminder of their visit: a one-of-a-kind wreath that Amber fashioned entirely by hand by laboriously rolling over 120 individual paper roses. Ben hand-carried it all the way from Tacoma.
When they presented me with their gift, I gasped. The roses are created from spirals of paper carefully cut from Tyndale novels Amber and I both read, but it was her idea to recycle them into a permanent work of art. The Styrofoam ring and glue she used to attach the roses cost little, but the time she invested creating my unique gift is priceless.
Our world offers rewards for lots of things – lost pets, stolen possessions, information leading to the conviction of criminals. But a reward will never be offered for time. Once it’s lost or spent, it can never be replaced.
Perhaps that’s why those who gift us with this most precious commodity are our personal tutors as well. They teach us how to reach out in love to others. When we make a meal for a family in need, send a card, place a call or lend a hand, it’s a way of saying that others matter to us and to God.
And here’s the most amazing thing. Those who bless others with the precious gift of time will be blessed in return. I love the promise from the prophet Isaiah that those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry. (Isaiah 58:10-11 The Message)
What about you? In what ways have others gifted you with their most precious resource: time?