Yesterday as I was waiting to be wheeled back for my procedure, I was trying to keep my mind off of things by playing games on my phone. The nurse who came by to insert my IV line looked down and asked what I was playing. At the time it was spades, and we got into a long conversation about games on the phone and how much time we wasted on them.
I could not help but think about that term “wasted time” as they wheeled me back to have the procedure that would only confirm what we already knew. For me, wasted time is time that is meaningless, producing nothing, and isolated from relationships, community, and, most importantly, God. That is definitely true of the time I spend on my stupid games on my phone. But why is it so attractive to waste time?
Now, there is a distinction between wasted time and restorative time. They are similar, but very different, because in restorative time, there is a discipline and purpose. While nothing may seem to be accomplished, often much is, because the intention is to ultimately be more focused or productive or even have a moment to reconnect to our deeper purpose.
Throughout the Bible, there is a theme that we see from Genesis through Revelations, and that is an understanding that God calls us to live an intentional life. The book “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is an example of an intentional life. I love the book, and think it is something every Christian should read at some point, although it sets an impossible standard. However, even in the high standards that it sets there is much we can learn, like asking the question why do we do what we do, and more importantly, how is it that what we are doing is glorifying to God?
For me, the redevelopment of my childhood ailments has brought back memories of having to ask what was important. When you are well and everything comes easily to you, it is easy to go with the flow, even to waste time, because, well, there is a lot of time to waste. But when things are not going well and you are staring at your own mortality, you begin to realize how important every moment is and cherish it. For me today, it is more than just making every moment matter; it is about living with the intentionality of following God, but also with the grace to find my way back when I fail.
When living this intentional life, we no longer have wasted time, because everything we do we do with God, and those times when we fail at our intentionality, we can always find the grace to make things right once again.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen