Lent Part 7 – Invitation to Waste Time

True confession – I’m not very good at wasting time.

I know what you’re thinking: how shameful!  But before you judge me, let me just say that I’m better at it than I used to be.  That’s because I’m in a recovery program and it’s beginning to take effect.

Some of the activities in this program involve staring at the flowers outside my window, slowly reading and savoring a good book, going for long walks, and sometimes even taking a nap.  With each new experience of “wasting”  time, I am settling into a new way of being.  And drawing closer to the heart of God.

Through this season of Lent, God is teaching me new rhythms, helping me learn to simply “be” and not “do” all the time.  Yes, I’m still a novice at “being.”  I’m still a beginner when it comes to slowing down, being present, relaxing and just resting.  But I’m getting better every day.

I am a recovering adrenaline-junkie, learning to let go of some of my endless projects.  Although I enjoy accomplishing things and connecting with people (which are all good things), I’m learning that constant motion is not the way to live life to the full.  I’m learning to “shabat,” which in Hebrew literally means, “rest.”  Not coincidentally, it’s also the same word for “Sabbath.”

This resting, this being present with God and “wasting” time has become a precious experience of worship for me.  That’s because I’m taking something very precious – my time – and surrendering it to God.

Time is that one commodity we all have the exact same amout of.  We can’t magically create more of it.  There’s only 24 hours in each day.  Period.  Time management experts will try to teach you how to squeeze more “life” out of those hours.  But at the end of the day, there will still only be 24 hours (even though Jack Bauer fans might wish he had more than “24”). 

At the end of the day, my success or failure in God’s eyes will not be measured by how much I’ve produced, how many people I’ve impressed, or how many projects I’ve completed.

God is looking for extravagant worshippers, people who will give Him everything – including their time.  Especially their time.  He does not want us to horde our time or protect our time from Him.  He wants us to pour it out at His feet, like the woman with the expensive jar of nard.

As it says in John 12:1-3, “Six days before the Passover ceremonies began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus – the man he had raised from the dead.  A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor.  Martha served, and Lazarus sat at the table with him.  Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard, and she annointed Jesus’ feet with it and wiped his feet with her hair.  And the house was filled with fragrance.”

This twelve-ounce jar of perfume would have cost an entire year’s wages.  And guess who pointed out what a waste it was – that’s right, Judas.  Just as Mary was completing her act of worship, he started complaining that the nard could have been sold to help the poor.  And he was right.

Mary’s act of worship didn’t make sense, as Judas pointed out.  His was the voice of reason, the call to use resources more productively.  Be more efficient, more effective.  And if I had been there, I might have agreed with him.  What a waste!

But Jesus sided with Mary on this one.  Mary recognized who Jesus was, and offered something very costly and precious to her God.  And He blessed her for it.

Sometimes God calls us to give extravagant gifts of worship as well.  It may be a material item.  Or it may be our time.  Sometimes for me, my time feels like more of a sacrifice than my money.  After all, there are so many things that must be done.

Then God whispers to me and says, “Linda, I’m God.  Remember?  I’m in control.  You have limits – I don’t.  You will never come to the end of your ‘To Do’ list.  That’s why I’m calling you to worship me by resting from your labors.  Let me carry the load – you can trust me with it.  Sit down and just be for awhile.  Smell the flowers (I created them for you).  Feel the sunshine on your face.  Remember who you are and who I AM.  That is enough for this moment.”

So I sit and gaze out the window, and sip my raspberry ice tea.  And I remember.  It strikes me as funny that this truly enjoyable moment with God involves such surrender on my part.  We laugh together about it.  Then I lay back and doze off for awhile, knowing my life is safely held in His hands while I rest.  And the fragrance of worship fills the house.

“Spend the afternoon.  You can’t take it with you.”  – Annie Dillard


  1. Linda – thank you for this wonderful article. It has touched me deeply as I too, am smack in the middle of learning what true rest is.

    I loved God’s wisdom to you, “You have limits – I don’t.” Wow, I should post this everywhere!

  2. This is such a challenge to put into practice – to be still and know that HE is God. What an amazing thought – He just wants to BE with me! And it’s usually in those moments that I am able to really feel His love and care for me. Thanks for sending us this invitation to recovery Linda! 😉

  3. Thanks for the invite – I enjoy pondering on this..

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