“So much to do, so little time.” – “Hurry!” – “Work harder!” – “You had better take advantage of every second if you want to be successful.” – “Keep your head down and carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.” – “If you don’t do it, it won’t get done.” – “If you want to please everyone you have to get it done right now.” – “This is ASAP!” – “You are highly valuable…if you succeed at what you do.” – “You can push yourself harder.” – “Don’t stop working until you drop or your health starts crippling you.”
These types of statements or thoughts are rarely verbalized, but let’s be honest, these are the subtle messages that has been propagated across American culture for years now. Personally, I could fill up pages with similar thoughts that go through my mind. This has become our default mode of operation. We are experts at filling up empty space with some sort of work or noise (guilty). It is as though we have become addicted to achievement…sometimes at the expense of gifts that God has put in our lives. Often times at the expense of our quiet time with God.
Our culture has forgotten how to sit on the front porch and carry on a conversation. We have lost our ability (or desire) to relax. Have you ever taken a “relaxing” vacation and noticed how it took the entire trip just to begin to relax? What is the deal?!
One of things I love most about traveling is learning from other cultures. Something I learned quickly when visiting India on three different occasions, is that Indian culture does not operate at the same panic level that we do. Yes, things still get done, but certainly not at the break neck speed of modern America.
In America, we will skip breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner because we are SOOOO busy (again guilty). In India, from Government officials, all the way down to the poorest of society, everything stops when it’s “tea time”.
During “tea time” in India (and most of Eastern culture), tea is not consumed the way we consume the holy bean…aka coffee. Drinking coffee in our culture, most often happens as we are running out the door on the way to school or work. We may grab some more mid-afternoon, not necessarily for the pleasure of it, but to ward off the post-lunch lull so that we can continue to be “productive”.
Drinking tea in Eastern/Asian culture is more of an event. It is a predetermined and set aside time of the day in which conversation occurs. It can be very formal or very casual, as you can see from this roadside chai walla we visited (by the way, this masala chai was ridiculously good).
Having tea with someone is an enjoyable way of building relationship through conversation. Leaders within communities usually have tea together before discussing business deals or making decisions. If you are putting together a schedule for an event, you must incorporate tea time. Tea time is simply a part of the rhythm of life in India.
Lately, I have been considering what it would look like for me…for us, as followers of Christ, to slow down and take more time for “tea”. I am fairly certain that the Savior of our souls would love to meet us there. In India, you can find tea stands on almost every street. At any moment, you can pull over and partake of the masala goodness! What if we decided to pull over more often and take some time fellowshipping with our Heavenly Chai Walla?
What if we stopped giving so much of ourselves to the ASAP’s of the moment (which are never as critical as they actually seem) and took more time to drink in God’s presence? The traffic is often unbearable in the larger cities in India. So, why not pull over and drink tea? Why do we feel like we must keep the pedal to the metal and white knuckle the steering wheel right on through the traffic of the day? Right on through our lunch hour? These are questions I am asking myself!
At what point did I allow my task list to supplant my quiet time? This happens without even thinking. The enemy wants us to skip our “meals” with Jesus. He wants us to remain distracted and out of rhythm. He is happy with us being overwhelmed and striving for man’s approval and that elusive pat on the back. He wants us to physically and mentally break down under the stresses of life. He wants us to keep looking inward and not upward, because he knows we have no power in our own strength.
Our strength lies in our tea times. I love that with God it doesn’t have to be formal. We don’t have to dress up for the occasion. We can pull over at any time, right in the middle of the chaos of the day and drink in His love and encouragement. His nourishment is never prepackaged. It is the real deal. It’s authentic. It is full of fresh ingredients and His recipe is perfect. It is exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. Why won’t we just pull over?
Lord, we simply ask that tea time with you would become a more prevalent part of the rhythm of our lives. Help us to remember that as we rest in You, we are demonstrating confidence in Your faithfulness. Please remind us in those ASAP moments that the only thing that is actually “critical” is our relationship with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.