Aug 2, 2007

wasting time

Be advised… this is a rant.

I hate wasting time.

I’m quite frustrated with the hours I have wasted in my life walking behind people in supermarkets and malls who don’t have a “360 degree sense of space.”

(I don’t know if that’s an actual term, which is why I put it in quotes… just in case it’s the new buzz phrase / catch word [yes, I wrote that on purpose] that takes off in Newsweek or Time Magazine and I can say I said it here first all you chaordic, thin-slicing, purpose-driven, buster/boomer/builder types).

You know what I mean, right? Someone who lacks a “360 degree sense of space” is that person you’re walking behind who is stepping in what seems to be every direction and they won’t let you pass… not consciously, mind you, so you can’t really be mad at them… but unconsciously, because they’re obsessed with their own world.

I hate wasting time.

Keep in mind, I don’t hate the people who waste my time… but I just hate wasting time.

One of the things I really struggle with is how often Christians (by the way, I am one) waste time trying to step in every direction except in the ones that matter. I am embarrassed to say this, but a big opinion that is often nurtured and promoted in many church circles is “If you’re in, good for you – you’ve arrived… but if you’re out, shame on you, and you’re such a moron for thinking that way… and you probably deserve all of what is about to happen to you.”

That’s us stepping all over the place, by the way, and impeding someone from moving forward. A lack of a “360 degree sense of space.” (copyright 2007, registered trademark, all rights reserved, void where prohibited by law, may not be used without the express written consent of the National Football League)

I mean, how is it possible for us to walk in such a self-focused manner?

How can we be “redeemed” and forget the price that was paid for all to receive that gift?

How can we sing great hymns about “forgiveness” and then be callous and indifferent to the pain of the world as we create more of it?

How can we be so thankful that God has offered a way out of our “ignorance” and then start poking holes at other people who follow other belief systems?

We’d never realize this, of course, because it’s not always quite that obvious.

So we think of polite ways to figure out who’s “in” and who’s “out.”

  • “Did you pray a salvation prayer?” we ask. “What’s that?” they wonder, “is that in the Bible?” We jitter and respond, “Well, sort of. But you should say it to be sure you’re in.”

  • “Say pastor,” we ask, “when are you going to do another altar call? Ask some folks to walk the aisle and kneel at that padded chunk of wood.” “What’s that,” they wonder, “is that in the Bible?” We jitter and respond, “Well, sort of. But you should do it to be sure some of our church folks are in.”

  • “Hey congregation,” we ask, “when are you going to get baptized? You really need to get baptized even if you’ve gotten baptized before. And it needs to be in this shape of water… in this manner… with this person standing beside you… after you share this testimony into the microphone…” “What’s that,” they wonder, “is that in the Bible?” We jitter and respond, “Well, sort of. But you should do it to be sure that you’re really committed.”

There was a time when I was such a person who demanded that others fit into the lines I’d drawn in the sand because God wasn’t big enough to save them in other ways. Life made sense. I was right… they were wrong. I needed to show them why I was right and they were wrong. Not for their sake, but for my insecurities.

Then I realized that my “answers” made sense because I wasn’t asking big enough questions.


Have I mentioned that I hate wasting time?

Maybe this is why I have great empathy for those moments when Jesus was questioned by the question-askers during His days on earth who were proposing queries that they couldn’t even fathom the answers to. A group of religious folk – some of them with good intent and others with selfish intent – kept pressing in on the Lord from every angle to try and figure out and label He who is indescribable. Think about this – they tried to debate with the Word of God… who invented language. Even when they thought they had him all figured out and pierced His life to death, they actually opened the door for Him to pierce their death to life and blow away any label they tried to place on Him.

Digest this... the Bible tells us that there were times that Jesus was questioned and He remained silent.

I mean, how do you tell someone the answer is “3” when they’re stuck asking questions on the level of, “What does the number yellow sound like when you September it?”

Yet… He loved those people who asked the questions, didn’t He? Even if they made Him a bit angry and sad... a lot of the times.

Jesus chose to waste His time with time-wasters... people who were stepping all over the place in every direction except the ones that mattered.

We know this because there are some really amazing passages where Jesus kind of chews them out. It’s really great to read with some popcorn nearby… until you realize you’re one of those people Jesus is speaking to, too.

Have I mentioned that I hate wasting time?

I share this because in the past three months, I have “wasted” time.

  • I’ve been questioned about my theology and my security with the mystery of God on many topics… and I did my best to answer to exhaustion. Even though it took a lot of time.

  • I’ve been questioned about the church I’m a part of and our manner of reaching out to all people using cultural metaphors… and I did my best to answer to exhaustion. Even though it took a lot of time.

  • I’ve been questioned about which “clubs” I belong to and how if the funny hat was left in the room by the last guy that I should put it on, too… and I did my best to answer to exhaustion. Even though it took a lot of time.

Because really… it’s not my time anyway:

  • Because I have been redeemed, which means I’m no longer mine…

  • Because I have been forgiven, which means I need to forgive those who slow down my intentions for the day…

  • Because I have been made aware out of my ignorance, which means I have some insights to share from my journey that might bless another.

Yes... I am aware, aren't I? I have come to some pretty amazing revelations, haven't I? I'm smarter now... I have been rebuilt... better than I was before... stronger, faster...

I’m so thankful that I don’t waste people’s time anymore. I’m so thankful I’ve arrived. I’m so thankful that I used to be that way but am not anymore.

Oops. Sorry… didn’t see you there, please pardon my clumsy steps as you try to walk past me.

Because, in case I haven't said this already, I hate wasting time.