I came across a word the other day that set me wondering. It is a simple word we don’t hear much in the relatively blunt language of our hurried and harried culture, and that’s sad because, well, we ought to think about it. 

It’s “dawdle.” Sounds funny, doesn’t it?

Say it out loud, and it naturally stretches on, “daaawwdle,” reflecting the negative connotation Mr. Webster makes clear when he defines it as, “to waste time by trifling.” To dawdle implies going slower than expected.  It implies a lack of hurrying or even staying still. 

I heard it a lot as a kid. My parents would say “Stop dawdling!” prodding me to move quicker, work faster, to get more done, and to stop wasting time. 

Why do we dawdle? 

OK, sometimes we are avoiding something, but sometimes we are lingering somewhere or with someone we love or enjoy.  Something intimate happens then. 

A type of hope underlies that dawdling, a hope to know something intimately in the soul’s fabric. 

When we were dating, my wife would laugh at me because I hated saying goodbye, and that word just started a process where I would stretch the conversation out another ten to twenty minutes. 

I wanted to stay, to dawdle, to linger intimately, and she still laughs at me when I do that. 

So, is dawdling always bad?  I don’t think so. 

In Psalm 30:5-8, someone is dawdling – waiting for the Lord with an expectant hope or love. 

Here they are, waiting, living in a moment of intimate lingering, not wanting to leave because there is something restless in the heart that only God can calm, and they don’t want to say goodbye because once that longing is satisfied, life just goes better. 

It seems people (even people who love Jesus) recognize that restlessness, talk about that reality in their own lives, but miss finding that hope fulfilled. There is stuff to do. 

Anyway, don’t they give Jesus an hour or so, depending on kickoff, on every second or third Sunday when they think about it?  Shouldn’t that be enough? It seems not. The restlessness is still there. They still run hard. Something is still missing. 

Is that you?  Well, when is the last time you dawdled for the divine?

The Rev. Joel McMahon IV. is Senior Pastor of League City United Methodist Church near Houston. If you are ever in the area, he and his congregation would love for you to drop in for a visit.

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