Anybody else out there remember the Mod Squad? It was a groovy, hip TV crime drama that ran from 1968 to 1973 on ABC. Even though I was a little kid in the middle of its airing years, I can recall being fascinated with it the few times I snuck in a viewing.
My dad wouldn’t tolerate it when he was in the room.
“Dang hippie show,” he’d mutter as he directed me to slide forward on the carpet and turn the channel dial. I was the remote.
Dad was right, of course–The Mod Squad was unabashedly a hippie show. It was a cutting-edge program, targeted to the youth counterculture of that era, showcasing all the beads, miniskirts, aviator sunglasses, and spectacular afros an eight-year-old honky girl could dream of.
I especially liked the lingo. The Mod Squad’s jive talkin’ was so funky my parents didn’t even understand it. Peter, Julie and Linc called the police “fuzz,” said, “far out, man,” and called each other “cool cats.”
My Malibu Barbie started talking the same way to Skipper. When their Country Camper ran over my sister’s Ken doll, Barbie said, “Outta sight!” and when the Carousel Kitchen’s batteries ran low, Skipper would say, “Heavy, man.”
But it was my Velvet doll, the one with the retractable hair feature, that always referred to money as “bread.” She would complain to her cousin Crissy doll that her constant hairstyling appointments cost her a lot of bread.
Remembering that phrase now always makes the “give us this day our daily bread” part of the Lord’s Prayer more relevant in a trippy sort of way.
Time is a strange entity. It exists, but it doesn’t feel like it does.
Time has always been the only thing I don’t feel I have enough of. As a consumeristic, over-blessed American, my house is full of too much food, too many shoes, and way too many pieces of blue glassware. But none of those things can be a receptacle in which to capture the elusive minutes that are always flying away from me. I’ve despaired many times over not having enough time.
That’s changed a bit in this last year, however. A while back, I was at a church service in which the pastor preached on the “daily bread” part of the Lord’s Prayer. He talked about how bread represented provision and how we can daily trust that God will provide us with just what we need for that day. He mentioned various types of provisions that God grants, but the one that stuck out for me was time. I had never really thought of time as a provision before.
Yet, it is. Just like food, money, water, shelter–time is something granted to me each day and I can choose to use it wisely or squander it on worthless, selfish pursuits (which shall remain nameless for the moment).
So, if time is what I need, then I have to trust that I’ll get enough of it to do whatever I’m supposed to for that day, right?
That epiphany made me view the concept of time in a different light. I haven’t been as stressed about not getting certain things done lately, because I now realize that if I haven’t been given the time to do them, I must not need to get them done that day. That idea has been freeing, to say the least.
And even though I’m no mathematician, I did homeschool my boys just long enough to relearn the transitive property thing: if a=b, and b=c, then a=c. Therefore, if the Mod Squad called bread money, and money equals time, then time must equal bread. Groovy, huh?
Wally, my inner Pharisee, lied to me about time. He told me that time was given to me first and foremost to further the kingdom of God. He said that because the kingdom of God was built on the church, my time must be spent primarily on church commitment. Even at the expense of my relationships.
He was a liar, of course, but it would take a lot of frustration for me to finally see that. Wally was passing down the lies that his ancestors, the Pharisees of Jesus’ time, had instilled in him. Those old guys spent so much time studying, nit-picking, and carrying out their law interpretations that they completely lost sight of the purpose of the law. Because they spent all their time on the process they had none left with which to enjoy the results. In John 5:39 Jesus said:
“You diligently study the scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the scriptures that testify about me [point to me], yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (NIV)
In other words, the Pharisees got so wrapped up in their process, they completely missed the divine results! That’s what happened to me when I got so wrapped up in churchiness I completely missed the point of fellowship. The spirit of gathering with other believers involves connecting with people through relationships. We need relationships in order to stay emotionally healthy and to learn from each other. But when I exhausted all my time and energy on keeping the club sparkling and organized according to the right charts and standards, I had no time left to enjoy people. I wasted way too much time on the process and ended up disconnected from people, and thus, from Jesus. It was a sad state of affairs, but like the Pharisees, I felt superior in my over-the-top commitment and resented people who were free to enjoy the results of fellowship…
As a history lover, I’m currently reading, “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. It’s a fascinating account of the last weeks of Abraham Lincoln’s life and the events that led to his assassination.
“The man with six weeks to live is anxious.”
Only nine words into the story and I was already induced to ponder life. If Lincoln had known he would be killed in six weeks would he have done anything differently? Would that knowledge have made him change his plans and possibly change the course of American history?
What if I was told I only have six weeks to live?
Would I do anything differently?
I think I would. Even though I’m far from being one of the more careful, organized type of people on this planet, the knowledge that I was about to leave earth would still make me loosen up about a few things. I think it would suddenly make time more precious than anything else in the world and I’d imagine I’d stop wasting it on things that really don’t matter.
As much as I love my faith, I think that now, as a former Pharisee, the last thing on earth I’d worry about would involve church stuff. I would hope that I’d finally see Who church was supposed to point to and stop obsessing over the pointing process. I’d really hope I wouldn’t waste another valuable minute policing the after-church snack volunteer list. Or worry about who was supposed to get the bulletin copies made. Or whether or not the worship team played my favorite songs. Or why I was always the only one who ever remembered to clean the coffee pots.
I imagine that anything and everything I could do to spend every moment with my family and friends would become my top priority. I’d run, not walk, to my car and race to my in-state and out-of-state kids’ houses and plop down on their couches and try to say everything that I thought I’d have a lifetime to say.
Hmm. Maybe that wouldn’t be right. Maybe it’d be better for me to plop down and listen to them. Listen to everything they’ve ever needed to say to me.
Or, maybe we’d just hug and cry and hold each other tight. That would probably be enough, because time is precious.
Precious bread, man.
Righteous, precious bread.