The Time It Takes

The Time It Takes

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably online. And you know what we’re like when we’re online. We want things to appear instantaneously. If we have to wait to see the loading line run along the screen, or if we see that annoying coloured spinning circle, it irks us. Sure some of us can remember the dial-up sounds when we couldn’t surf the net and talk on the phone at the same time. We remember the hideously long waits we endured to access our email or see the result of our Yahoo search. But now that we have the technology, we demand speed, we demand immediacy. And while this applies to our online life, it is seeping out into other areas as well. Just think of how you felt the last time you stood in line, the last time you were put on hold, the last time someone was late for a meeting, the last time you were left waiting for a reply to your text…

Time matters.

When I was 12 I was in competitive swimming. I was trying to make it into the next devision with my 200 metre back stroke time. For a while my coach timed me doing these 200 metre back stroke sprints almost every workout. Eventually I was just milliseconds off. My coach started getting more and more intense; correcting my stroke, my flip turns, even getting me to monitor my resting heart rate on a daily basis. Finally, he realized that I was wearing a waterproof Swatch watch and sure enough, after taking it off, I did one more sprint and made it into the next devision. The difference between devisions was determined by the drag caused by a Swatch watch.

Milliseconds matter.

Our time and what we do with it matters. In our work, we feel especially accountable for our time. We feel that what we do with our time is significant as it has to reflect the trust that others have placed on us. A wasted or unproductive hour can set a whole day off kilter. So when we were recently told by a respected friend that we’d really see our ministry taking off in about 15 years. The girl in the Swatch watch let out a long sigh. It seemed to be anything but encouraging. 15 years is a long time in milliseconds.

But having our sights extended into the future, has been helpful. In our age of immediacy, we need to allow ourselves to do the things that actually take up our time. People take time, relationships take time, change of any sort takes time. How long does it take to listen to someone’s whole story? How long does it take to build up trust? How long does it take to tear out the quick fixes that scar our society? How long does it take for us to peel off our outer armour and let others in? How many times do you cross paths with your neighbour before they call you friend? How many gestures does it take to say that we are equal? How long does it take for the Church to unfold her wings and fly from the brick and mortar she has chained herself to? Milliseconds? 15 or more years? It takes the time that it takes. It can’t be calculated or predicted. But this is time well spent, this is God’s active and creative work. This is the work that I want to be part of, whatever the time it takes.

By Jasmine Chandra