Friday, February 10, 2017

Time: wasting it or using it? .......... Parables 548

March 3, 1997 ?

In a lifetime, the average North American will spend six months sitting at stop lights, eight months opening junk mail, and five years waiting in line. We might be able to shorten the time on junk mail but what can we do to make the time we wait for other people seem more productive?

Before offering suggestions, maybe waiting is not as bad as we insists it is. Always hurrying can be unhealthy. Taking a breather, even in traffic, can keep some of us from losing our senses. In fact, the bigger problem could be impatience. Inner agitation at whatever puts us on hold is more destructive to mental and physical health than spending a few minutes paused at the mercy of machines, traffic lights or the slow clerk at the other end of the line.

However, life is short enough as it is without filling it with years of do-nothing, waiting-for-someone-else-to move minutes. Demands for increased productivity and for more attention to personal development make us impatient with delays. Instead of allowing those delays to fill us with anxiety or resentment, we can use them wisely.

Standard suggestions for sit-down waiting include writing thank-you notes, reading, planning with a notebook and calendar, and knitting or other crafts. Be sure to include the children if that is your situation. My daughter reads to her younger daughter in waiting rooms, while the older one does her homework.

Some people talk to friends or business associates on their cellular phone. Obviously that works for them, but for some reason, it makes me feel like my privacy is being invaded. Those who would rather keep their business and personal affairs private can dispense with a cell phone but use a laptop computer to write letters or outline a business proposal. More than one person has threatened to bill their doctor for the hours spent waiting; however, in our electronic age, we do not need to put work on hold while someone makes us wait.

Personally, I usually take a notebook with me and plan my shopping list, read and take notes for homework assignments, prepare short speeches, outline a Sunday School lesson or design quilt blocks. I also write in my journal, work through relationship snags and rehearse what I want to say to someone I may owe an apology or explanation.

The best idea is using waiting time to draw closer to God. The Psalms are filled with verses referring to waiting on Him but my favorite passage comes from Isaiah 40:29-31: “(God) gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Waiting on God is not the same as being stuck in a hospital waiting room or at the end of a long lineup for tickets. Instead, it is simply refusing to think (worry) about other things or focus on anything else but Him. It is approaching Him as a listener, waiting for His commands and His inner encouragement. It is eagerly standing or sitting still, watching for the signs that He is coming or doing something on our behalf. It is setting aside all the chores and cares of the moment to focus on Him, to hear His voice and be refreshed.

Waiting on God requires time. It takes time to learn how and time to perfect. It also takes time to just do it. If our schedules are already full and making an appointment with Him is difficult, then the best time might be while we are waiting and unable to do anything else.

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