I know what you're thinking.
"It's been awfully quiet around Attention Span lately... what's going on?"
Let me explain.
For the last three weeks, I've been busy. I know, I know, we're all busy, but these few weeks have been especially so for me, and by extension, for my wife and kids. You see, I've been training for another job. It's just a job as a substitute, but I have to go through all the red tape and jump the hoops like I was going to do this every day. So for a little more than two weeks, I have spent the first half of my day in training, full-time. After that, I would leave the training site (which was at least 45 minutes away) and go to my other full-time job, where I was part of a team working on a special project, not to mention the normal work I do. And, oh yeah, did I mention that neither one of these two jobs is my pastoral job?
Yeah, I've been a three job guy for about three weeks. It has slowed up considerably now. The special project is done. The major portion of my training is done. All in time for December and the hustle and bustle of a church during the Christmas season.
Thanksgiving week was especially trying because that week my training site was about 90 minutes away. Three extra hours on the road were just three hours a night I could have slept. But the neatest thing happened.
I was annoyed at first that my five days of training would be extended because of missing the Thursday of Thanksgiving. I told myself that it would really be a pain to get out of the groove of making the drive, training, driving back, working my other job, getting home late and waving at my kids on the way to bed. But by Wednesday, I was dragging. Scratch that. I was all-but-unconscious. When I fell onto the mattress Wednesday night, it was all I could do to lift my head to get it onto the pillow.
Then I remembered. Tomorrow I didn't have to rise early. It was Thanksgiving. And among all the other things I was thankful for, a day of relaxing with family was high on the list indeed. I'm not sure how I would have made it otherwise.
Anyway, for two weeks I worked two jobs (not counting being a pastor), and somewhere along the line I figured out that since I was working two full-time jobs, that I would be getting paid for two full-time jobs! Lack of sleep probably delayed this realization, but it wasn't too far into the process that reality hit me. I found out that on December 1 I would get my check for all the training hours I put in. Coincidentally, December 1 is also the day checks arrive for my other weekday job.
I started thinking about getting two paychecks on one day. The waiting was hard, but I kept going. I knew there were Christmas presents to buy and a couple of unexpected bills that needed to be paid. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the checks earlier -- I had to wait.
Today is December 1. Payday. Two checks, baby! Was it all worth it? I'm not sure. Money isn't a big motivator for me, but knowing I had use for the cash made the waiting that much harder.
During my so-called spare time this week, I've been contemplating Advent. To me, Advent has always been about the waiting. Sure, there are plenty of other aspects to the season, but waiting is a central theme. Waiting for Messiah. Waiting for Christmas. Even waiting to watch the Advent candles burn down to a nub. There is so much waiting going on, it makes a check-out line at the department store seem so apropos.
The waiting is harder when I realize how much I need what I'm waiting for. I need that little baby in swaddling clothes. He is the only hope for me. I know what being away from God is like. I know what neglecting Him is like. I truly need Emmanuel. Yet today, I don't need to wait. You see, today is payday. Not just two payroll checks, but access to what I need.