The Importance of Wasting Time

I spent the first ten minutes sitting there twiddling my thumbs and beating myself up that I left my computer, commentaries and study notes in the car. Oddly enough I did not even have my Bible or my journal with me, which left me feeling utterly naked sitting at the coffee shop waiting on my friend who was running late for a morning chat.

Phrases with useful suggestions for how to spend the intermittent 15 minutes remaining were on a continual loop through my mind. “I could be using this time finishing up discussion lessons; I really need to tweak my notes for the Bible lecture next week. If nothing else, I could be journaling or memorizing Scripture.”  

I giggled as I looked up in my antsy, super-charged efficiency mode to see the coffee shop’s motto, Waste Time Together, painted in hipster hues on a chalkboard counter. (Aside: San Diego friends, check out Scrimshaw Coffee on El Cajon Blvd).


Ah, Lord, I see. You finally got my attention. You desire nothing more for me in these stolen moments than to desire to waste time with you, sitting in your presence, getting nothing measurable accomplished.

This past few months have been among the busier of my recent life. Hosting dear out of town friends and family, starting a new 20 hour a week job, helping to get Fall ministry events kicked off and rolling, all on top of the normal insanity that is trying to be a wife and momma to three and a mostly functioning human being.

Martha was engaged at her sister for “wasting time,” sitting at Jesus feet with all the meals to be cooked, water to be drawn and details to be finished for the meal with their famous rabbi friend, Jesus. To her great surprise and to ours as well, He rebuked her for rebuking her sister. It seems that in Jesus’ economy, time is measured differently.

Similarly, Jesus’ disciples were in a rush. They had been summoned to the home of wealthy mover and shaker, Jairus, to heal his dying daughter. No time to waste. Hurry, hurry. Weave through the crowds. But Jesus did not succumb to their haste. He had time to stop in the midst of a crushing crowd to address the bleeding and desperate woman who had, in faith, touched the hem of his cloak.

Recently, I was convicted while reading a book written many decades ago by a busy physician and his busy friends, addressing the topic of fatigue in the then-modern society. As a Swiss physician addressing other Christian doctors and pastors, Paul Tournier talked about our tendency to “have too many irons on the fire.” He wrote, “Men are in a hurry, and we physicians and pastors even more so than others.”

Tournier urged his audience to consider “each instance of fatigue” as a signal calling us “to meditate a little more, for it can be a sign that something is not in order in our life, something which we must examine before God.” He prescribed “meditation and this search for a sovereignty of God in the organization of our lives” as a “remedy for hurry and commotion.”

Teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12. 

I have always read this verse through the lens of urgency. Your days are numbered, therefore don’t waste a moment. Squeeze every bit of efficiency you can out of your days. Labor while it is still day, for the darkness is coming. That kind of thing.

While I do think that God desires us to use and invest our time intentionally and wisely, not sitting around passively vegging out or actively pursuing only our own comfort or desires, I am also learning to see that God values our carefully chosen and guarded wasted time with Him.

Just as I am willing to “waste” time that could be invested in other significant and necessary tasks to spend time simply watching a football game beside my husband or picking up acorns with my children, the Lord longs that I would be willing to “waste” time with Him.

Its not that journaling is wrong or that studying the Scriptures is a poor time investment; indeed, generally speaking, both are commendable investments of time. It’s just that sometimes, I deem those as useful tasks rather than opportunities to sit and enjoy the beauty of God.

In all my desire to serve Him, to be a cleansed vessel, useful to the Master, a la 2 Timothy 2:21, I do not want to forget His beauty and His matchless Worth. He is worthy of wasting time that could be otherwise spent. He is infinitely beautiful and He longs to be enjoyed and explored, not simply served and proclaimed.

Excuse me, I must go and waste time with my Jesus.


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