I wore a watch. I can’t believe I wore a watch. In July, four other adults and I helped 18 high school students experience short term missions in Alaska. Living thirty miles north of the Arctic Circle, we ate seal (okay), whale (never again) and caribou (loved it). Our team shared a very crowded 2 1\2 bathroom house with the pastor, his wife, and five interns. But the trip wasn’t about us, so we sucked it up by showering less and only occasionally brushing our teeth. For six days we gave up a bit of personal hygiene and a lot of privacy for a greater cause.
I typically don’t wear a watch — especially when I travel with students in the summer. Usually where we visit it’s too hot outside to wear a watch. But because the temperature barely reached 60 degrees Fahrenheit in Alaska, I left home with a watch on and never took it off. Our purpose was to have a vacation Bible school for local kids and run youth services at the church in the evenings. I think that the most important thing we did during our time there was when we were off schedule — just being with people who needed to know they mattered to us and to God.
Still, I wore a watch. I kept my daily schedule and occasionally made it my job to keep a schedule for others, too. I found myself sometimes getting a little irritated (putting on my “cranky pants”) if others weren’t moving along according to my pace, my agenda, my time. But the best conversations and the best times of sharing God’s grace to others came in the timeless moments. The moments when I detach myself from the demands of schedules and time to simply be with are always the best moments.
The Bible says that to God a day is as a thousand years. I used to think that verse tried to explain why sometimes God takes a long time answering prayers. I’m beginning to think the verse means that God isn’t as concerned about time because He lives with us during the moments of our lives. God is willing to be with us, no matter how long it takes. In order to live my days according God’s schedule — busy, but not hurried — I have to slow down (maybe even stand still) to listen to God’s concerns and the needs of others. I have to learn to be with. The book Soul Keeper (Ortberg, 2014) says “Every day is a collection of moments, 86,400 seconds in a day. How many of them can you live with God? Start where you are and grow from there. God wants to be with you every moment.”
The other day I had a conversation with a dear friend I hadn’t seen in years. He has been retired for nearly 20 years now and was remarking on how quickly time goes. “When I was in the Navy, one time we were stationed in Greenland for six months. Because it was dark nearly 24 hours a day, we didn’t live by our watches, we had to work to according to getting the job done. Sometimes we’d work 18 days and other days not work at all. I like it better that way — not needing a watch.” Live with. Be with.
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