Points to Ponder: Killing Time
Points to Ponder
One of my best friends since high school days is like a sister to me. We can go months without speaking to or seeing each other; but if one of us begins thinking about the other, within about 48 hours the other feels prompted to call. For most of our lives we've lived 70 or more miles apart, but when I began pastoring again in Washington County, we were within a 30-45 minute drive from each other.
One day Terry calls from Hagerstown knowing I'm at one of my "field offices" (Panera or Borders) working on a sermon - or writing one of these columns. She said, "I've got some time to kill and I thought I'd see what you're doing." I thought, that's a thoughtful comment (there's nothing worthwhile to do so I'll kill some time with Dennis). With a chuckle, she assured me that I, being one of her best friends, was the first one she thought of when she had all that time that needed to be killed (euthanized?) We had coffee and got caught up on each other's lives, ministries, families, etc. Very nice.
A few days later, with my work done, I called to ask if she had any "terminally ill time" at her disposal. Not right then; but on Monday she did. So we met briefly. As I got up to go on to a meeting, I referred to her sporadic availability of time to see her good friend - me - as her "hospice time." I suggested it sounded much more positive than "time to kill." I reminded her that it's palliative. "What's that?" she asked. It's about relieving pain. "So what pain is being relieved?" she asked. Well, I guess it all depends.
Some friends can cause pain, or enhance a pre-existing painful condition. Then there are those who comfort, and just by their presence, can relieve pain. Killing time with friends like these can be the most enlivening use of our time.
"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." (Proverbs 27:17)
One reason why my parents were mindful of the kinds of friends I hung out with is that if my dad saw noticeable change in my character or judgment, he could trace it to certain relationships and would strongly suggest I make some new decisions regarding my choice of friends. Our friendships should (ideally) make us better. They sharpen our perceptions, help us to see ourselves objectively, and encourage us to grow. Our best friends are those who take the risk of being honest with us.
"Faithful are the wounds of a friend..." (Proverbs 27:6a).
They don't tell us what we want to hear; they love us enough to risk telling us the truth we need to hear.
There are also the good friends who know just what to say when our soul is burdened, our heart is heavy with grief, or generally when life is confusing and we're down on ourselves.
"A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." (Proverbs 25:11)
God is incredibly good to me in that way, sending special people into my life at just the right time who say just the right thing. I was a hardened agnostic when Terry and I met 30 years ago. But God used our friendship to reach me as I saw His presence in her.
The calling to come back to the Clear Spring area to pastor a new independent church involved much prayer and consulting many mentors and friends. Pastor Vandy Kennedy's wise words to me again and again over the previous five years focused me during the spiritual struggle over what to do.
"Delight yourself also in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)
In other words, pour your heart into what God has placed before you today. Let Him work out the rest. He knows your heart and He will fulfill your desires - even as they may not be very clear just yet. I did. And He did.
When I began hunting a house and making our decision firm, I stopped at a gift shop to browse. One among the several greeting cards met me at eye level: "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." An affirmation of the wise counsel, admonishments, and words fitly spoken to me by many godly friends.
What does this have to do with killing time? Maybe you are stuck on a decision; you can't see the issue clearly. The answer you need eludes you. Or the answer you already know is hard to accept. Do you have some "terminally ill time"? You just can't do life by yourself. You may need a little palliative care, the comfort of the presence of a friend. Killing time with someone who knows you can ease the weight of what burdens you. But also, there may be a word that, more than you realize, will clarify the matter at hand.
"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. HilltopChristianFellowship.com