Saturday, August 13, 2011

On Wasting Time

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"Wasting time" watching eagles fly with my sweetheart, atop a bluff overlooking the Snoqualmie River in North Bend, during our 32nd anniversary.
Because I am coming off a four-day vacation, I have been thinking this morning about Seth Godin's recent blog, "Wasting Time Is Not a Waste."

Basically he defines (with tongue in cheek, I'm sure) "wasting time" as any time that's not directly devoted to productivity (working). And then he says, we can "waste time" poorly, or we can "waste time" well.

Wasting time well (which is not a waste) is measured, he says, by the extent to which your investment of wasted time either/and: 1) brings you needed rest, 2) brings you needed discovery, or 3) brings you joy.

I like that, and it also got me to thinking about a biblical view of "wasted time." From the very beginning, God ordained a cyclical time of rest for we weak and frail human beings who don't know any better (and that's apparently all of us), and He called it "Sabbath." In Sabbath, we were obviously to rest, that was a fundamental part of the fourth commandment as revealed in Exodus 20:8-11 ...
 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
 The impetus for the Sabbath was resting in God's work. Jewish scholars took the "rest" part very seriously and took great pains to define exactly what "rest" meant. But there were more than simple elements of "rest" (kicking back, doing no work) in the Sabbath. There were also elements of discovery ... and if you dig deeper, elements of joy.

Over and over again in Exodus, the sabbath is referred to as a day "holy unto the Lord." Chapter 31:16 says it was to be "celebrated." It was an occasion for joy, even in the midst of "denying yourself" (Lev. 6:31). And a denial of self, in Scripture, is always portrayed as a refocusing from self to others, first and foremost, focusing upon God.

This is why the Jews attended Synagogue on the Sabbath. Lev. 23:3 calls it "a day of sacred assembly," a day in which to show reverence for the Tabernacle or the Temple as God's dwelling place. Discovery of who God was and how to draw near to Him, in the sacred assembly, was a part of the "rest" that God required, a refocusing upon the person and work of God (and off of ourselves and our own desires).

Such discovery of God results in joy, as Jesus Christ assured us in John 17 when (in the midst of His greatest trial) he prayed that we would experience His fullness of joy.

So, Seth hits it right on the head, from my perspective. If vacations are simply wasting time in empty pursuits of self-gratification and "entertainment," they are truly a waste. But if in your vacation you can truly get rested up, engage upon a discovery of who God is and who we are in right relation to Him, and experience as a result the joy that knowing God and loving Christ brings to our hearts, such "wasted time" is far from a waste!

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