“Waiting: Helpful Perspective on Time”

July 6, 2010

Some years ago, while I was teaching at a university in California, a co-worker was commuting with me in my car as we fought rush hour traffic.  After braking at yet another red light, I was about to completely lose my cool.  At that point, to get me to see how stupid my reaction was, he said, “You look like you almost had a stroke from missing that light.  But, if it had been 100 years ago, and you’d missed the stagecoach, your attitude would be have been, ‘No problem.  It will come back through next month.’”

Sheepishly, I had to admit he was right.  I’d become such a slave to our cultural perspective on productivity being measured by time efficiency that I’d come to feel that even getting caught at a red light was “wasting time.”

As I think back, I realize that most of my problem on this issue has had to do with two false perspectives: 1) As I’ve explained in my earlier articles on “waiting,” I have wrongly viewed all waiting as wasted time; and 2) I have tried to cram all kinds of unnecessary (i.e., low priority, at best) actions into shorter and shorter spans of time, somehow thinking that made me a more efficient time manager, when it really meant I was shortsightedly trying to do too much in too little time.

To get my head screwed on straight about “time,” it’s helped to think about the life of Jesus.  He “waited” until He was about 30 years old to begin His ministry.  Yet, even though He died at about 33, He accomplished everything that really mattered on God’s “things to do” list for Him.  Hmmm!  Obviously, I need to prayerfully rethink my priorities and schedule through Jesus-colored lenses.

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