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Who Says it’s a Waste of Time?

Recently I was engaged in a small-talk conversation with an acquaintance. We spoke of raising children, we talked about our hobbies, and generally getting-to-know-you chit chat. At one point I mentioned that my husband and I enjoy watching off the beaten path movies…you know, those heady kinds, devoid of overdone special effects that actually have some semblance of intelligent dialogue. This person’s response to me took me completely off guard. He looked me in the eye and said, “I don’t like to waste my time watching movies. I’d much rather practice my instrument.” Rather than stand there trying to defend my down-time activity (or smack His Royal Arrogance upside his head), I think I just said, “Oh”, and walked away.

Just who determines what exactly wasting time is? Is it my family? My church? My peers? The shame-based voices in my head?

I always thought I had to be “busy” in order to be productive and godly. Busy, busy, busy gets you pats on the back and human affirmation. It proves you are on the ball! That occasional “atta girl!” makes me feel like somebody. But is it possible it can also make me shallow and self-absorbed? If the thoughts in my head are constantly about production in order to feel validated, where is the place for kicking back and simply enjoying a good conversation with a friend? The “busy/productive” focus leaves very little room for depths of relationship with fellow humans, not to mention depth with God. I remember vividly when my children were young and I was involved in “women’s ministry” (isn’t the very fact that I’m a woman and I’m a Christian enough to say I am naturally in “women’s ministry?). Anyway, as I was sprinting out the door once more for yet another meeting, immediately after exiting the house, I saw in my mind a cloud of dust and my children and husband standing in it. Suffice to say, I backed off meeting quite as often. Don’t misunderstand here. Having an outlet is a wonderful thing. It becomes an ugly thing when it swallows up precious, fleeting, relational time.

As I have become one of those “seasoned” women (makes me feel like a roasted chicken!), awareness of the sheer joy of sitting at my kitchen table gazing out at the variety of birds and flowers and insects has become a most sacred time. Feeling the sun on my shoulders and acknowledging the One who made it is fruit alone. Peering into the eyes of a friend whose heart is fractured once again and reminding her it will be all right and can we pray and I’m here for you, without once looking at my watch, is valid use of the limited time I have on this planet. And yes, watching a movie that causes deep dialogue between my husband and me is creativity enough.

Whatever we undertake, be sure it flows from Jesus, internalizes within, then pours out onto those He places in your path. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Whether I’m eating, working, meditating, conversing,

practicing or playing I want to be sure the motivation is sourced in His heart of love. If not, it will be easy to criticize those who are not as intentionally busy as I am. If I live in light of Colossians 3, verse 17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”, I will have a Jesus-focus, rather than a self-focus. Which ultimately gives me an others-focus (which seems to be the bulk of what Jesus taught!). Whatever you doIf I can give glory to God by watching a child dance or listening to music or running my fingers through a puppy’s fur, then I am truly living.

So who’s to say what wasting time is?? Listen to your ultimate Father. He might be calling you to be held in His everlasting arms and quietly rest. Or He might beckon you to slay a giant. But be sure to determine whose voice you are listening to. Acknowledging Him in quiet contemplation or active duty (and everything in between) is never, ever a waste of time.

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Lori Travers

Lori finds the Joy of the Lord to be her strength. Born and raised an Italian Jersey girl, she has finally settled in the south as Reynolda Presbyterian church became her new home. Ministry to women, reading, writing, cooking, and anything having to do with animals are her sweet spots. Having a background in cardiac testing, she chose to stay home and raise three incredible children who are now married, and currently has 2 precious granddaughters and one faithful husband of 34 years.

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