“As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak further about these things on the next Sabbath. When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.” Acts 13:42-43
I am not a loiterer. My daily life is punctuated by bells that ring mostly every forty minutes and time is compartmentalized. Every minute is not idly squandered but assigned a task. Yes, there is a bit of the control freak about me. In the effort to make sure that every base is covered, and every reaction from the young people I encounter is anticipated and planned for…life gets regimented!
Sometimes it spills out in the evening, this careful management of time. An hour gets assigned to the ironing pile, an half an hour to washing up, ten minutes here or there to sort out the veggie box, or toss out the rotting salad in the fridge.
I give a half hour here, an hour here…and when things run over time I am not comfortable. I am not as bad as I used to be!
Reading in Acts 13 last night, I could picture the scene – the sermon over and done with, the blessing spoken, everyone leaving to go home and have lunch…there was a crowd congregating around Paul and Barnabas wanting to talk further, reluctant to let the conversation end.
It brought to mind a sentence in the Old Testament. Please don’t ask me to try and track it down. Moses and Joshua were in the tent of meeting. Then Moses left to go and do stuff – an hour of ironing, perhaps. The next little bit says that Joshua stayed. He didn’t go off to do his pile of ironing, or whatever. He stayed with God in the tent of meeting. It doesn’t tell you anything of the conversation – just that Joshua stayed.
It occurred to me that I don’t stay! Obviously in my morning quiet times, there is a limit to how long I can stay. On an evening though, my time with God, when it happens gets the same time allocation as any other task – the single half hour, or hour. And if I think I have heard what I need to hear I will perhaps break off the conversation.
I luxuriated last night in a non-timed, non-clock watched time with God. My need for God stemmed out of a difficult week that had left me feeling a little battered. The need to just “be” was strong in my mind. I was also thinking of a word for Sunday. It’s my turn and what with the week’s traumas, I hadn’t felt like I had been listening much.
I meditated on recent passages I had read, prayed about various issues on my heart and I listened to a worship tape. I stayed. I didn’t fret about all the other things I could have been doing, I just stayed.
By the end of the evening, I felt on an even keel once more. I was no surer of a word for Sunday. This was not a meeting to discuss strategy and plans, or to direct the next phase of operations. It was chill out time – so I chilled. As God reminded me – the point was not to put the world to rights (except mine perhaps) but simply to be with Him.