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Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Assault on Quiet Time

Through high school and college, one of my summer jobs was working at a "Pick-Your-Own" Strawberry farm. During the picking season, my job was to stand out in the field to direct people to the best help them avoid rows that had been "picked-clean," and, of course, to make sure kids didn't trample the fruit or start impromptu berry fights.

On the weekends, the job stayed very busy. Thousands of people came out, so I got to talk to all sorts of neat folks. I made some of my best friends there at that field. As a matter of fact, working in that strawberry patch eventually led to me meeting my wife. But the most important person I met there was Jesus, though that's a story for another time.

As I said, weekends at the strawberry field were usually very busy. But weekdays…were slow. Watching the paint dry slow. And the boss had a thing for us never sitting down on the job. So, I stood there…in the middle of a field…for hours…on end…with nothing to do…but think.

And boy, did I ever think. I thought about my life, about my future, about relationships, about my dreams…about God. At the time, I grew to hate having so much time to think. I was in the midst of a very troubling break-up, and I just couldn't get away from my thoughts. It was horrible, but it was wonderful.

It was a good thing I couldn't get away from my thoughts. I was forced to confront them. I was forced to weigh myself, to measure my life, to ask questions. All that think time led me straight to Jesus.

This brings me to the subject of my post. We need quiet time. I'm not even talking about time to get away, relax, and recharge. No, we need that too. But I'm talking about having quiet time that troubles us. Quiet time where we have nothing left to do but see ourselves as we our, to see the world as it is, and just maybe…hear from God.

Make space in your calendar for two hours. By yourself. No interruptions. No distractions. I dare you to try it.

I DOUBLE DARE YOU. It won't be easy. Call me a nutjob if you want, but I am CONVINCED that one of our enemy's subtlest, most destructive plots is to obliterate our quiet time. Think of the direction American culture has taken us. Remember when all the houses had great big front porches, where neighbors could "set a spell" and talk?

Yeah, me either. That's how long it's been. Time was when people actually got to know each other…and yes, that was a good thing. Don't get me wrong, technology in and of itself is not evil. TV isn't the great demonic ploy of this age. iPods, video games--nothing innately wrong with any of it. But look at the great sum of it all. What seems to be the goal: portable DvD players, cell phones, iPhones, blackberries, laptops, etc. etc.

I was in a restaurant the other day and visited a restroom. Guess what? There's a TV above the urinal! I was in NYC a few months back and stepped into an elevator. TV there too. I recently heard that gas stations were going to be putting TVs on the pump, so you don't have to stand there for a a full minute with nothing to do.

Seems like the world wants us to be entertained every waking moment. I wonder why that is. I suspect it's because in quiet moments, we might actually think about life...we might actually start asking the big questions of life. Who am I? Why am I here? What have I been doing with my life? Or, maybe, is there anyone out there who cares?

You might say, Wayne, all those things are are attempts to eliminate boredom from our lives. That's not so bad, is it? No, not entirely. But when the pace of life, the routines, the moment to moment living, the entertainment, and the noise constantly bombard us…it becomes easy to lie to ourselves. It becomes easy to beat down those nagging questions. It becomes easy to let life--real life--pass us by.

So what might happen if you allow yourself to NOT be numbed by entertainment or busyness for a while? Maybe in that quiet, you might remember the harsh words you spoke to a loved one. Maybe, you might feel an urge to apologize. Maybe, you'll remember some childhood dream that you swept under the adult rug. Maybe, you'll realize how messed up the world is...or how messed up all of us are.

I suspect what many people call boredom might actually be pain. And pain, when recognized, might lead us to ask for help.

Realizing we need help--for life and eternity--might just be the most important discovery of our lives. There's only One who has all the answers to the hard questions. There's only One who loved you enough to die for you. My prayer is that quiet time might lead you to Him.

If you're the hard person to shop for--the guy who has everything--maybe give yourself a gift this year. Give yourself some quiet time. Go ahead. I dare you.

Merry Christmas!


Anonymous said...

This really means a lot to me- thank you. This has made me think in a completely different way about "boredom", and I will definitely have some quiet time soon.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I hate to ask this-how do the suspense technique contests work? I'd love to enter, but I can't figure it out. -blushes-

Anonymous said...

Almost every summer, my family goes to a camp in the mountains (and I'm talking UP in the mountains) and it's not the kinda camp where you are constantly having activity after activity. You know when meals are and you know when devotional is, and the rest of the time you are free to do whatever. It is absolutely breath-taking up there, and it is one of my favorite spots just to think. There is one place there that I love year I found in a beautiful aspen wood: a brook fed by the snow on the mountain top.'re all alone, in a lovely wood with the whispering aspens around you; a light breeze plays with your hair as you sit on a fallen log listening to the burbling brook, and thinking. I miss that place the most when we come home. I'm not a city girl, I love the peace and quite. In my place in the mountain, it's hard not to think about how absolutely great God is to be able to create things of such beauty.

Anonymous said...

This is EXACTLY what I've been needing. It snowed ten inches I think a little later tomorrow, when all my work is done, I think I'll go for a walk. :) Sit by a pond or hang out in my favorite spot in the city...hmm.
Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

I wish I could show this to everyone in the world right now. Wait! I can! Hey everyone, send this post as a chain e-mail to all the contacts in your address book. This needs to be passed on. And don't forget to mention who wrote it--and Who inspired him to write it: God.

Bryan Davis said...


Many good insights here. Thank you for being faithful to take the time to spread wisdom.

Although I'm a very busy guy, I can't relate to all of what you wrote. I can't remember the last time I was bored. I don't have much downtime. I don't watch TV, play video games, listen to an IPod, etc. There are just too many wonderful things to do. My wife and I sit and talk or go for long walks. I'll fly a kite with my daughter or take another daughter to a writers' meeting ... etc, etc.

Yet I completely agree that meeting with God is essential, and there are so many quiet moments to do that--a long drive, exercising, in the shower. It's crucial that we listen for inspiration and direction. If we don't have those moments available, we have to kick out the nonessentials and make room for THE essential.

I don't agree with the idea that we're all messed up and need fixing. I believe that has already been accomplished in Christians, but we all need guidance with the hundreds of decisions that face us every day, and I'm not wise enough and don't have an eternal perspective, so I count on God to whisper in my ear during those quiet moments.

Good job, Wayne. I'll listen to that sermon any day!

Bryan Davis

Robert Treskillard said...

Thanks, Wayne. This is especially appropriate at this hectic time of year.

Unknown said...

I love quiet time! Now I am a bit of a wierd Christian. Why? I do not go to church! I stopped because I felt like they were containing God in boxes and I never felt like I was actually experiencing God. When I was alone within communication with God, I felt warmth and for the first time experienced God. Madeleine L'engle wrote some amazing things about this how she felt constant technology is just making us lose touch with God, I love her writing about the beauty of God experienced a God not contained in boxes, a hell denouncing crazy bigot God. But a God who has love that is so uncomprehendable. Sorry about writing so much about Madeleiene L'engle, she just writes some of the most beautiful things about God! I loved this post, this is exactly how I have felt lately with our overly technical society. I mean I love technology, but also we need to just back off it a bit to experience God. Instead of comfronting him ourselves, we feed ourselves what others think of God. We just say rote prayers, do the routine, gather the popular conscience on issues, and just go with the flow. Sometimes it feels as though people are robots. I love what you said in this post, all the images of sitting peacefully by the lake in Maine my parents came back to me. No sound to be heard, except a loving embrace from God and the whispers you hear from him.
Overall very beautiful post!
Have a merry Christmas, and I will continue to pray for your brother and his wife, my heart goes out to them. I can just cannot imagine what they are feeling!
I love your books!
-Justin B.

Shane Deal said...

Merry Christmas! Or as I like to say, Happy Christmas.... I'd send you a Christmas card, by alas! I do not have your address. :-) This will have to do.

I've been alone with my thoughts many times, it's a startling, yet enlightening experience. You begin to see yourself for who you really are, and it's not always pretty.

Thank you very much for the encouraging article.

therosepatch said...

That's a great dare and a great challenge, Wayne. I might have to take you up on that... :) *hugs*

Valerie Comer said...

Thanks, Wayne.

Justin, you talked about folks putting God in a box. Hold that thought for a sec. God IS in a box. It's okay. He really is in the box.

Think about it.

God is everywhere, isn't he? Isn't that what omnipresent means? So sometimes in our haste to remember how vast God is, how outside-the-box he is (and I agree, he IS outside the box)--we forget that everywhere also means inside the box. He is outside AND inside. He can be found wherever people are searching.

He's bigger than the box. The box can't contain him. But that doesn't mean he isn't in it. He IS in it. But not all of him--he's too big.

We don't always do church very well. Sometimes it seems like a game played badly. But that doesn't mean that God can't be honored in it and through it. He is bigger than church. But he is there, too.

I guess you can tell I've been thinking about this a lot lately! Hope you didn't mind my sharing this perspective here.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Author L.B. Graham eMailed me his thoughts on this post. For those of you not --yet-- familiar with LB's cool books yet, he writes "The Binding of the Blade" series. Very cool worldbuilding (you'll want to go there) and characters you'll want to get to know.

Here are LB's thoughts on "An Assault on Quiet Time"


Thanks for the link to the blog. I enjoyed it. Here are some thoughts it prompted, in no particular order…

(1) My first house was in a relatively “cheap” area of St. Louis . The little houses on my side of the street were from the 1920s. All had front porches. The little houses across the street were all from the 1960s. They had tiny stoops out front and back patios (as well as being cookie cutter brick houses – all the same). It was the loss of “neighborhood” concept in microcosm. Families behind their privacy fences instead of out front where they could know and be known.

(2) A guy who spoke on music at Covenant Seminary when I was as student there gave us what seemed like odd advice at first – turn off the car radio and listen to less music. His point? Music has become “background noise” for too many of us. By its constant presence, we miss some of the beauty, grandeur and wonder of it. He urged us to have more stillness as a way of reinvesting our music listening time with some of the beauty that is lost by is sheer everywhere-ness.

Anyway, I could go on, but that’s more than you asked for already.


Unknown said...

Thanks, it seemed as though you said this at just the right time in my life. Although I just now read it and it was posted a LONG time ago, it seems as though God let me see it just when he wanted me to see it. Thanks.