I want it my way, and I want it... whenever! :)

I only have 26 minutes and 43 seconds to write this, so I’m going to be as efficient as possible.

Yes, that was a stab at our culture.

Lately I’ve been reading a pretty cool book called Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships. The author, Sherwood Lingenfelter, talks a lot about breaking down cultural barriers in inter-cultural relationships and ministry, and it’s really helped me put my life as an American (and especially as a Christian) in perspective. It’s a life-long battle to try to see the world through God’s eyes, and when we can strip away the biases and influences of our own culture, it helps that much more!

One thing that Lingenfelter did that really struck me was to compare a time-based culture (America in a nutshell) to an event-based culture. In America, everything is about time. We make the most of it when we have it, and we never seem to have enough of it. Investments in technology help us become more efficient with our time. We conduct business through email and telephone to make things happen faster. We have clocks everywhere so that our rigid schedules are adhered to down to the minute.

However, obviously not everyone in the world works like we do. Lingenfelter spent several years as a missionary in a Pacific Island state called Yap, where time matters little, and events matter most. He gave many examples of how time doesn’t matter in the Yapese culture, including most “scheduled” events beginning 2-3 hours late on average, as well as local movie theaters waiting for a full crowd to begin showing a film.

As an American, this sounds ludicrous, right? If an usher came into a movie theater and told the customers that they were going to wait an hour to allow more people the time to arrive, most of the movie viewers would get upset almost instantly and probably demand their money back. But in Yap, this is common. They’re more concerned that the movie be seen at all than when it is seen.

But there was one example that blew my mind. It wasn’t so much the example itself, but the way that Lingenfelter explained the attitude of the man in the story. He said that in the village where he lived, he watched a man take two years to build a new house for his family by hand.

Is two years an incredibly long time to build a house by yourself? Maybe? But this is what I liked. He said that the man would just decide to take two days off of working on his house to go fishing. Or if his neighbors needed his help, he had no problem dropping what he was doing to lend a hand. The man had no reason to rush. He just knew that he wanted a new house for his family, but it wasn’t important that it be anytime soon.

Is that as inspiring to you as it is to me? The man’s primary objective could take a backseat at any time that he so chose. He didn’t ruin relationships or burn himself out in a race to the finish. He enjoyed every step of the way and did what he wanted, when he wanted.

Now, this IS a ministry blog, so let’s bring it back to Jesus. Remember the story of Lazarus? Jesus said he would heal Lazarus. But, Jesus didn’t make it back to Lazarus in time to heal him, and he died. When he arrived, Jesus was rebuked by the friends and family of Lazarus who said that if only Jesus had gotten there sooner, Lazarus would be alive now. However, as we all know, Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead, fully-healed, just as he promised.

As Americans, how often are we like those people who got upset with Jesus? How often are we so blinded by the perceived importance of time that we lose sight of the big picture? Have you set an unrealistic goal for yourself to lose weight after New Year’s? Do you keep in touch with most of your friends with your phone? Or maybe you’re upset that God hasn’t given you a spouse in your early twenties like everyone else.

Do you have the eternal perspective to understand that, although achieving goals is important, quality of time spent is as well? Do you know that, once God fulfills the desires of your heart, because you’re so spiritually-filled, you will be able to look back and laugh about all the time you spent worrying? I know I’ve done that before!

Obviously we can’t turn our culture on its head, or even remove ourselves from it. But, I know that stories like this are always great reminders for me. I can rest easy knowing that God WILL deliver on my prayers. That doesn’t mean it will be tomorrow, nor does it mean it will be 10 years from now. But he knows the desires of my heart, he hears my prayers, and he came so that I would live life abundantly. With my time, I "plan" to let God do just that.

Dang, that took me almost 40 minutes… Oh well… :)

1 Comment:

  1. Kate Steele said...
    Luke, this was EXACTLY what I needed to read today... so thanks!

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