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 rows...to 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.