The Most Important Things Take Time (of course, so do less important things)
Ever feel like you do a little bit of everything, but not much of anything?
We tend to live frenetically in the Western world. In theory we value simplicity and appreciate an uncomplicated way of life, but in reality we want fast food, fast cars, and fast fortunes. We want fast solutions to difficult problems and even fast relationships—touch-and-go connections that make us feel warm and fuzzy without meddling in our personal lives.
But if we want to get the most out of anything, we have to invest time. It’s true. Next time you bite into a hunk of rich, dark chocolate, try to not chew it. As it melts in your mouth, get ready for the surprising depth of velvety flavor contained in just one bite—discovered only when you don’t gulp it down.
If we really want to get to the important things in life, we’re going to have to invest time.
So we need to ask, “What’s really important?”
Could launching rockets be more significant than weeding the garden? Could a tete-a-tete with a child be more valuable than writing? Could sitting still be more useful than getting something done?
That was the story of my Saturday. An overwhelming list of things to do topped a week overflowing with work both at shop and home. Disappointments and pleasures marched hand-in-hand through the days, and then, suddenly, was Saturday again. I was weary, and time was short.
What could be done with these few hours? Melissa and I fervently discussed this question before arising to face the day.
I tried to think, to write, but I was distracted and the thoughts, like green fruits on a tree, weren’t quite ripe. I watered a few plants, visited with a friend in the sunny garden, and then, from the few golden drops of afternoon remaining, distilled some concentrated time to spend with my two oldest children.
No dramas. No one applauding our quiet conversations in the meditation garden, one-on-one, alone. Just a dad and his daughters, feeling our way along the path of the Lord, drinking in the pleasures of a perfect day and the fellowship of being together.
The time was long overdue; my children are hungry for it. Yes, we’re together much. We work together, eat together, converse together, worship together. But personal connections with each child—alone—is rare..
It just takes so much time.
But time is precisely what’s needed for all the most important things in life. In fact, an easy measuring stick for how valuable something is to us is the time we’re willing to dedicate to it. Do we value our hobbies? How much time do we give to them? Do we put a premium on relationships? How willing are we to give them time? Do we love God? How much control does He have of our time?
I find it fascinating that Jesus walked to many of His destinations. God could have arranged a chariot to carry His Son from town to town, heralding the good news. Better still, Jesus could have appeared, quick as thought, in the right place at the right time, eliminating transport delay altogether. After all, He had only a few short years to accomplish the purposes of eternity.
But He took the slow road, walking through the same dust as the rest of humanity and at the same pace. The Maker of time subjected Himself to time’s limitations. Yet He never missed an appointment, He never was late, He never “ran out of time.”
Of necessity, that meant there were many things He did not do, because less important things take time, too.
I find it’s easy to try so hard to “go somewhere” that I forget where I live, to work so hard to “get something” that I forget what I have, to want so much to “be someone” that I forget who I am. Jesus never quailed when faced with the shortness of His time because He never wavered from His single-minded purpose to do the will of His Father. He was satisfied with His status if it pleased His Father. Period.
. . . So if the Father would rather spend our time walking down the road when we envision running, if He would send us down a quiet detour, if He would pour our hoarded hours into intangibles, those things that produce no obvious results—can we thank Him? Can we determine, like Jesus, that if we are to walk, we will walk with Him?
We walked into the evening hours with our six children (and one nephew) along a little road leading to the sea. Great grassy fields spread to either side; Mt. Baker loomed majestically against the eastern sky and we listened as an enormous tanker was docked just beyond the bluff. Our customary sea breeze was reduced to a whisper, faint zephyrs barely rippling the air: This was the perfect setting to launch rockets that have been waiting, ready for launching, for more than a year
This was a time to take time.
We shared a picnic dinner, then fired one rocket after another . . . listened for the blast-off count-down . . . yelled in wonder as the missiles whooshed to life . . . glued our eyes to the sky where some rockets nearly disappeared from view . . . chased the parachuting space vehicles (and even caught a few). It was a great time as a family.
But was it valuable? Did something so trivial merit so much time and energy?
As we sauntered back through the fields to the car, I watched the stream of little lives flowing down the road ahead of me.
The sun, now far to the west, made long our shadows, reaching, sometimes touching a child. No, we aren’t too busy to walk if, by walking, we can fill a cup with joy or offer a word of wisdom or water a relationship.
No we aren’t too busy to take an untraveled road, even a detour from the mainstream, if on that road we can be used for purposes divine. No we aren’t too busy to slow down, though projects clamor for completion, if in the quiet we can worship. Like Jesus, we have time for the “unimportant” things that are the substance of life, if the unimportant things are the plan of God.
After all, if we would walk with God, we have to match our pace to His.