Let’s start with this short but powerful exhortation by William Ward. It is from his book, Reward Yourself.
A man phoned his physician and excitedly exclaimed: “Please come at once, Doctor. My son has swallowed my fountain pen.” The doctor replied, “I’ll be right over. But what are you doing in the meanwhile?” “Using a pencil,” answered the father.
What we do ‘in the meanwhile’ is of vital importance to our lives and to the lives of others. What we do with our leisure time can build our character or destroy it. It can make our fortune or mar it.
While we wait for a traffic light to change, we can pray for our city, our nation, and for the world.
While we drive or ride to work, we can affirmatively and joyously mediate on that which is true, pure, lovely, and positive.
While we wash dishes, mow the lawn, or perform other tasks that require less than our complete attention, we can sing, whistle, or hum the tunes of great songs and hymns that inevitably make life more beautiful for us and for our fellow human beings.
While we sit in the waiting room of our physician or dentist, we can thank God for dedicated professional people, and we can pray for those patients who might be anxious, fearful, despondent, or in pain.
What we do with our golden ‘in the meanwhile’ moments can enrich and inspire, encourage and uplift, bless and brighten our important corner of the world.
What a great philosophy of life! Easy to point out but much harder to do. But William Ward was the type of guy who would do this. He was focused. He recognized how to use his time wisely for the benefit of himself and others. His world could intersect the world and other’s worlds.
Never underestimate the power of words, especially when your words are God’s words. The speaking of mere words is like speaking of mere dynamite. In a very real sense, the thoughts you think and the words you speak create the world you and others live in.
Let’s explore how the ‘in the meanwhile’ lifestyle works and how we and others can benefit from it. Many of you will remember the oil additive STP. The next time you are stuck on hold at a doctor’s office, in traffic, driving on a long trip, or whatever, use STPS additive to the predicament. Stop…Think…Pray…and Say.
Let’s say you are stuck in a doctor’s office like I was yesterday. The doctor was two hours late. I sat there looking at frustrated, nervous people. The first thing I did was pick up my cell phone, get online, and get lost in space. Can you relate to this?
Had I recognized the power of ‘in the meanwhile,’ the first thing I could have done was STOP. Put down the Angry Birds or Solitaire. Those things are a diversion, but not useful except for my entertainment and self-medication.
The second thing I could have done was THINK. I could have asked myself, “How can I redeem this time? Who in my family or in this room do I need to pray for, talk too, or just bless? I don’t like wait time but thinking about something other than Angry Birds will probably be more productive for me and others.”
The third thing I could have done is PRAY. As a Christian, I could have asked God who and what to pray for. It’s amazing how God will answer that prayer. Someone will start talking to you. Or perhaps you will start a conversation with the person next to you. While you are talking, you will hear what to pray from either God or them.
The fourth thing I could have done was SAY. Maybe I was supposed to encourage someone or just be in a conversation with a fellow human being rather than an Angry Bird or a Jack of Spades. Act on what you hear.
The power of ‘in the meanwhile’ will require we lead with our ears, follow up with our tongues, and let our frustration with having to wait for the doctor straggle along in the rear.
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