I was excited today to try out my new travel bible, purchased from CBD (Christian Book Distributor) online. It is only a little larger than a package of Pop-Tarts and contains the entire Bible, NIV translation. With a conservative blue leather cover and a metal snap, it fits neatly in my pocket or laptop bag. I had time on the bus to read Psalms 108-110, and to read over Ephesians 1 twice.
One of the things I think about a lot is the length of my commute, and the seeming waste of hours upon hours of my time. Over the weekend, I was whining about this topic to a friend, and I started thinking about how God perceives time and its waste.
First of all, the very concept of waste is, by definition, bound up with a finite perspective. To test this, find any child below the age of 6 and give them a bottle of bubbles (the kind that comes with a bubble-wand and a screw-on top.
Nearly any child will enjoy the bubbles, but at some point, well inside 30 minutes, most children will either accidentally spill or deliberately pour the bubbles out on the ground, totally insensitive to the waste involved. As a grown-up (at least in age), I am frequently irritated by this failure in my children to understand the finite nature of things.
“Now all your bubbles are gone,” I lecture severely. “Why did you pour them on the ground? Why weren’t you more careful? Now yours are all gone and you’ll have to just sit and watch your sister play with her bubbles.” My children are always very impressed with my lectures.
Let’s face it … life is finite. The brown sugar Pop-Tarts I am nibbling will soon be gone. The Diet Coke (breakfast of also-rans) I am sipping will vanish, probably before the Pop-Tarts. This day, whether it is seized, throttled, savored, hoarded, or allowed to trickle through my fingers, will pass away, never to be reclaimed, except in memory or blog journalling.
I must say, I find the loss of six hours a day in commuting to be deeply offensive … I’ve always had a high view of my time, since early childhood. My Mom once assigned me a cleaning chore that I found particularly tedious; I announced to her in no uncertain terms, “I was meant for more than this!”
In the words of the Psalmist:
“You have made my days a mere handbreadth, the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.” –Psalm 39:5
Life is finite. Or is it? Look at the way that God treats the ones He loves:
- Moses, the leader of Israel, the greatest prophet (with the exception of John the Baptist and, possibly, Elijah) spent 40 years herding sheep on the back side of Midian and another 40 years expiating the rebelliousness of his people and his own temper.
- David, possibly the greatest king Israel ever knew, spent years in exile and being chased throughout the badlands of Israel by his vindictive predecessor. Even when he finally became king at the age of 30, he spent another 7 years waiting in Hebron for the rest of the country to recognize him.
- Abraham, God’s chosen friend and founder of His people, spent 99 years as a nomadic herder before God’s promise of a son was redeemed.
- Noah, the only righteous man on the planet in his day, was assigned to a 100-year-long marine construction project.
- Jesus, God’s own Son, fully God and fully Man, spent the majority of his time on this earth working as a carpenter (or possibly a carpenter’s assistant). It wasn’t until the last 3 of His 33 years that he began to actively pursue His ministry. Even during that time, he spent most of his time commuting.
The list goes on. God’s view of time is notoriously different from ours — “a day is like a thousand years” and so on. For Him, neither time nor matter are finite — He probably has a different perspective on ‘waste’. I wonder if we, in our fast talking, multi-tasking, hyper-scheduled rush to seize and exploit every moment, fail to accurately discern the mind and purposes of God? Perhaps God’s will for me on this commute is to ‘waste’ this time, learning to wait on Him in a positive, active way. Maybe this travel time is a golden opportunity for me to renew a daily habit of Bible study … indeed, even the drive time can be used constructively in prayer and (with the windows rolled up) singing along with praise songs on the local Christian radio station.