I was having lunch with a friend last week. She had done well in her chosen profession. However, she told me that she had decided to cut back on her work to free up more time for people. She wanted to be more available for her family, and her friends, both Christian and non-Christian.
She was pleased with her decision. There was only one problem. She found it hard to explain her decision to many of her Christian friends.
I wasn’t surprised. Her decision was radically counter-cultural.
In a day and age where speed and productivity are the unchallenged virtues, the greatest sin is the sin of ‘wasting time’. The motto of the day is ‘making every moment count’.
It really sounds crazy that one would spend hours with people just for the sake of being with them, devoid of any specific agenda or any clearly defined goal.
I would contend however, that it is precisely in days like ours that we need people to come along side us to help us in making sense of a rapidly changing world.
In his book, THE DIVINE CONSPIRACY, Dallas Willard tells of a pilot who was practising high-speed manoeuvrers in a jet fighter.
“She turned the controls for what she thought was a steep ascent-and flew straight into the ground. She was unaware that she had been flying upside down. This is a parable of human existence in our times…”
We need to slow down to get our bearings. We also need friends, friends who will spend time with us to help us discern what God is doing in what Eugene Peterson calls “the everyday occurrences of contemporary life” .
Ad-hoc or planned, we need people with whom we can “seek companionship, encouragement, and insight in pursuing the life of prayer, developing an integrated and mature life of faith, maintaining an attentive alertness to God’s action in all times and in everything”(Peterson).
Indeed we recall that it was in walking together that the two disciples on the Emmaus Road discovered the presence of Christ.
“And it happened that as they were talking together and discussing it (Jesus’ crucifixion), Jesus himself came up and walked by their side…” (Luke 24:15)
Few would debate the importance of cultivating spiritual friendships. There is only one snag. Friendship needs time. It is in the simple chit-chats that take place over a cup of coffee that we slow down long enough to help each other identify the presence of God in the big and small details of our lives.
Much as we would like to have it differently, relationships cannot be rushed. And God does not always dwell in the spectacular (1 Kings 19:11-12).
We find God at the speed of friendship. We find God in the details of daily life.
Therefore, more than ever, we need the ministry of ‘wasting time’.
Who will you waste time with this week?