Dispatches

Do You Have The Time?

Rushing through it can leave us deeply unsatisfied

How we think about time says a lot about us. Most of us probably feel that there is not enough time in the day to get to everything that needs doing. We constantly rush to catch up and then look forward to some distant future when we will have more time on our hands. 

Cultures around the world view and relate to time differently. In many parts of the world, time is not so much the minutes or hours on the clock, but a gift to be handled gently and reverently.

As foreigners, when we enter cultures where time is approached differently, we can find ourselves struggling. When things start late or last longer than expected, when people don’t show up as planned or plans change unexpectedly, we become uncomfortable and might react ungraciously. I know I have. 

I remember being in a friend’s wedding in Kenya. We traveled to the rural home for the ceremony. I arose early on the day of the wedding to get ready. To my dismay, as the wedding hour approached, the bride and most of the family members were far from ready. I asked my friend why she wasn’t hurrying. Her response was the first of many lessons I learned about time: “This is a day of celebration. People have traveled from far to be together. The whole day is the wedding, not just the ceremony. There is no need to rush.”

The problem with time is not that there is not enough of it; it’s that we don’t know how to enjoy what we have. We rush through the moments of our lives at such a fast pace that our experiences are rushed and fleeting. We can be left feeling deeply unsatisfied in our inner selves. 

In almost 30 years overseas, I cannot remember a single experience where anyone did not have time for me. Relationships came before the clock, every time.

How many of us have brushed someone off because we were in a hurry? We have no idea what opportunities we miss because we are busy trying to get somewhere else.

 We have a God who made time. I am certainly glad He always has time for me.

“There is a time for everything” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

April Foster is director of Others – Trade for Hope (www.tradeforhope.com). In this sixth installment of her "Walk Far" series she shares lessons learned from her 29 years in overseas ministry.

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