My new cell phone had a bad speaker, so I chose last Saturday morning to turn it in for another one. I made sure that I got to the store near opening time so I wouldn’t have to wait in a long line for service. Sure enough, no customers were at the mobile phone kiosk. I gave my phone and contract papers to the sales agent only to have him ask where the accessories were. I’d left them at home thinking I could just exchange the phone. I hurried back home and collected the charger, booklet and start-up disc. I breathed a sigh of relief upon returning and finding no waiting customers at the kiosk. Opening the box, the agent reminded me that the store had included a bonus headset and car phone charger. Sighing deeply, I raced into the parking lot, threw myself into the car and sped back home to retrieve the missing items. Back at the store the agent made several mistakes filling out the paper work and then realized that none of the items I retrieved were actually needed to complete the transaction after all. Then he gave the cashier wrong information that caused her to add an invalid charge to my credit card. By the time everything was corrected the morning was gone.
But I am no stranger to time management challenges. You see, I can impact the schedules of one to hundreds of unsuspecting people with no apparent effort. I simply make a choice of which lane on the freeway to drive on during rush hour or which cash register line to stand in at the super market. The number of cars in the lane or number of people in line has absolutely no bearing on the consequences of my move. Forward progress of the chosen lane, line or queue will come to an immediate halt. Meanwhile, alternative lanes or lines will move along at a strangely advanced rate of speed.
I warned a friend visiting me from out of town about this unique gift after we had purchased a couple of items at a Walmart around 7 0’ clock on a Saturday morning. The super store boasted 14 checkout stations and was nearly empty of shoppers at that early hour. Scanning the stations that showed lighted numbers indicating a cashier on duty, I spotted one with no one waiting in line. We made a beeline toward the register only to draw up short behind a customer that had been hidden from our view by merchandise displays. These displays were only five feet high, yet were more than adequate to hide the dwarf in a wheelchair being served at the check stand.
The tiny lady had tubes running out of her nose to an oxygen tank attached to the wheelchair. Each transaction with the cashier was a study in snail-paced deliberation. She must have had 10 coupons, and she strained to reach up to the cashier one coupon at a time. Each coupon was delivered in slow motion and was accompanied by a lengthy explanation.
Every customer in the store was served and enjoying their purchases at home by the time we were waited on. But this was the norm for me.
Reflecting on all of this, it occurs to me that there have been very few of the many “lost time” scenarios like the above that have had any significant negative impact on my life other than my response to some of them. Then there are the years spent in religious projects that produced nothing at best. And I can almost hear Father saying, “So what?
I don’t live in time, I live in eternity.” Paul exhorts us to redeem the time in these evil days, but how can we do that other than by leaning on the Redeemer? Certainly not by moving faster and trying to pack as much as possible into each day. Every time I get into a big hurry about something, I lose focus on him. Amazing how easy it is to forget that remaining in him is the only way that anything worthwhile gets done.
How do you respond to the frantic pace society sets today? What are some keys to resting in Christ you’ve learned on this journey?