‘I have no desire to rob anyone of their time or their joy’

I had agreed to meet with someone to pick up a package. I had time to spare.

FAITH AND REFLECTION — I had agreed to meet with someone to pick up a package. I had time to spare. However, en route I received a call asking if I could come to be with someone who had only minutes left to live. Of course I complied and went to be with the individual and his family. As expected, the man expired in less than half an hour.

I was now officially late, and with no number to call, I drove to the rendezvous point to find a swiftly pacing and highly agitated lady. Before I had the opportunity to explain why I was 20 minutes late she unleashed an invective upon me explaining how punctuality and integrity are closely linked. She asserted that I possessed no such virtuous linkage.

I sincerely apologized and told her that I didn’t blame her for being upset and endeavoured to explain my lateness, thinking perhaps I might be understood if not forgiven. No such luck she began a secondary tirade with equal or greater vigour than the first. We all have our limits, so this time I told her that now I did blame her, and suggested she might consider not using cannons to remove mosquitoes from the wall and asked for my package.

Punctuality, or lack thereof, has apparently been a chronic and perennial problem. Franklin Jones wrote, “The trouble with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it.” E. Verrall stated, “I am a believer in punctuality though it makes me very lonely” and Gerald Barzan added, “Laugh and the world laughs with you, be prompt and you dine alone.”

There is no commandment in the Bible that says “Thou shalt not never be late.” It does however, has a great deal to say about integrity and reliability, which makes punctuality an important matter.

There are three reasons that I strive for punctuality. First, I want to please the Lord. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do heartily as for the Lord . . .”

Second, I agree with the irate lady that there is indeed connective tissue between integrity and punctuality. In effect, arriving on time reflects dependability and builds trust.

Third, my tardiness or cavalier attitude toward time commitments and schedules might create anxiety or even produce harm in those who are relying on me. I have no desire to rob anyone of their time or their joy.

Not to dismiss any of the foregoing, but to qualify it, being obnoxious with someone who is tardy will hardly have them rushing to be early for the next appointment. Everyone will occasionally be late due to unforeseen difficulties or circumstances. Compassion and understanding are needful and commendable.

Better late than never, but better to never be late!

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