On wasting time …

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By Larry Short

Because I had a lovely a four-day vacation last week, I have been thinking about a recent blog from one of my favorite technology writers, Seth Godin: “Wasting Time Is Not a Waste.”

Basically Seth defines (with tongue in cheek, I’m sure) “wasted time” as any time that’s not directly devoted to productivity (working). And then he says, while we certainly can “waste time” poorly, it is so much better to “waste time” well.

Wasting time well (which is not a waste!) is measured, Seth says, by the extent to which our investment of “wasted time”: 1) brings us needed rest, 2) brings us important discovery, or 3) brings us joy.

I like that! It also got me to thinking about a biblical view of “wasted time.” From the very beginning, God ordained a cyclical 24-hour period 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 from our work, while resting in God’s work. Jewish scholars took the “resting from our work” part very seriously and exhibited great pains in defining exactly what “rest” meant. But there is so much more when it comes to the “rest” we should observe as 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.” Ch. 31:16 says the Sabbath 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 Stan alluded to on Sunday) as a refocusing from self to others. First and foremost, denial of self means refocusing 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 assured us in John 17 when (in the midst of His greatest trial) He prayed that we would experience His fullness of joy.

So, I think Seth hits it right on the head. If vacations are simply wasting time in empty pursuits of self-gratification and “entertainment,” then they are truly a waste. But if during 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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