Gratitude Day 634
John 6:12 – When everyone was satisfied, Jesus told his disciples, “Now go back and gather up the pieces left over so that nothing will be wasted.”
It is amazing how changing one little letter in a word can completely change the difference in the meaning.
Park versus part
Pomp versus pump
Step versus stop
You get the drift.
One of these examples sometimes gets me into trouble: dairy versus diary. I have a part-time marketing position in the dairy industry. When my fingers go too fast, it looks like I work in the diary industry instead. Nope, spell check does not catch these little problems.
A few days ago, I was thinking about the difference between waste and haste and how one little letter changes the entire word. We’re familiar with the old saying, “Haste makes waste.” But changing one letter is so much more than this.
Too often, I haste through my to-do list. This is often when mistakes get made. I sent out a project this week that listed the dates with the year 2020. DUH! A simple mistake that makes much waste. While I thought I had carefully checked and re-checked the project, things slip through. It’s a quick fix but still a waste of time for too much haste.
When I look at the life of Jesus, I see truly little haste. He doesn’t seem to bounce from one appointment to the next. I have never read Jesus saying, “I’m just to busy right now, I can’t …” If anything, Jesus is the one who slows down. Takes the time he needs to be present, listen and share.
Even though it’s the middle of the night, Jesus takes all the time needed with Nicodemus and answers his questions. When he encounters a Samaritan woman at a well during the middle of the day when she is sure no other woman will be drawing water, he carries on a long conversation with her, as if there is no other place or thing he could or should be doing. Time after time, we see Jesus enjoying a long meal with Jewish and non-Jewish friends. He never says, “Well, I only have 45 minutes before my next appointment.” Or “I’m sorry to cut you off but my next ZOOM appointment is in the waiting room.” No, he takes the necessary time to be with the people. Share with the folks in his presence. He finds some way to take an ordinary, regular meal and turn it into something those present will never forget.
Haste is just not part of Jesus’ vernacular.
So, what about waste? Does Jesus waste?
It seems that he so carefully chooses his stories, his words and how he reaches out to people. It’s not that every last detail is scripted. I think of more like carefully chosen and implemented.
Do others waste Jesus precious time and energy? Amazingly, Jesus has little tolerance for this as well. When he sends his closest buddies out to share what they have seen and heard to people in neighboring villages, Jesus is clear. Take nothing with you. Depend upon the hospitality of others. If the folks there aren’t interested in what you have to say? Do not waste your time. Shake the dust off of your sandals and keep on walking.
Oh, if I could only be brave enough to heed Jesus’ words. My skin is not nearly as thick. I am much more concerned about things that would never distract Jesus.
A rare instance where someone does not want to waste Jesus’ time comes from a non-Jewish person, a Roman solider. A Centurion comes to Jesus and asks him to heal his sick servant. “No need to come to my house,” the Centurion suggests. “Just heal him from here.”
The Centurion doesn’t want to waste Jesus’ time. HE had telehealth figured out long before we lived through a pandemic in 2020-21!
In my life, I see haste and waste littered all over my days. I waste just enough time during the day that as the day closes, I must haste to get SOMETHING of significance crossed off my to-do list. It can be distractions or unexpected interruptions or just me not focusing that caused me to waste too many minutes of the day. But somehow, Jesus never complains about “wasting” time. Or unexpected things that landed in his lap that waste a period of time. Maybe his to-do was crafted much differently than mine is and therefore, knocking things off the list wasn’t really all that important.
I don’t think Jesus wasted much of anything. When he fed a whole bunch of people from a few fish and a few loaves of bread, there were LEFTOVERS! He didn’t want them to go to waste, so he had the disciples collect the extra. But when it came time to wasting moments to be with folks who needed him? Jesus wasted ALL. DAY. LONG.
I see Jesus as having the ability to perfect the art of wasting the right things so he could reach out to those who desperately needed something in their lives. A lost couple of hours fishing on the Sea of Galilee with his BFF’s so he could teach them some life lesson? Not a bad day at the office. Having to walk an extra mile or two so he would run across the exact person who needed some comforting today? Just another part of the journey.
We spend so much of our lives trying to do and do and do. I include myself in this pot of people. There’s nothing wrong with getting things done. But when we see “wasted” time that maybe only caused us to slow down so we could really listen to another person as a problem, maybe we are the ones who need a mind shift. When haste becomes our go-to route of making sure we get things done, then we lose the joy of the journey that is part of the accomplishment.
Clearly, there is much more to think about that simply one little letter being the difference between waste and haste. Maybe the bigger question is not the change of one letter. Maybe the real question is how do we live and view haste and waste in our lives? Do we always view them as negative, or do we see glimpses of when one or the other can help us discover something new about ourselves and our relationship with God?
Today, let’s try to embrace a little less haste in our day. Can we allow moments of waste so we CAN observe something that normally we would pass right over? Let’s follow Jesus’ lead and come to see how haste and waste can be a breath of fresh air in our lives.
For letting one little letter become a teaching point in my life, I am grateful.
Dear God – Too often we haste through things in our days and lives and miss out on something that would have been so good. And then, we waste on the wrong things … not the right things. Figuring out what is the right daily path isn’t easy for me, God. May Your Spirit help guide me today. Amen.
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