Summary: After vacation -- time out -- it would be ridiculous if there were no "time in", engagement. God calls us to full engagement with Himself, which in turn calls us to live in newness and not in old habits. There is no time for anything that is not a serio

There are certain intense situations in which the best answer, maybe the only answer, is to take a “time out”. Time out, to get perspective; time out, to get emotions under control; time out to back off and take a better look. There are certain serious situations in which your instincts tell you it would be best to take a “time out”.

I was standing in line at the pharmacy. The line was getting longer and all of us were getting restless, because at the head of the line a dispute was brewing. The clerk said, “We can’t fill this prescription; your insurance won’t pay for it.” The customer said, “What? My insurance has always paid.” The clerk said, a little louder – have you noticed that people think their arguments are better if they are louder? – the clerk said, “The computer has rejected your claim. The insurance company says you are not supposed to get this drug.” The customer’s temperature went up a notch, “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard. I’ve been taking this for two years, and they’ve always paid. Take care of this.” That little escalation in the voice got under the clerk’s skin, “I can’t do anything about it. Did you get your medicine at another store?” “So what if I did? What’s that got to do with it. I need this drug, and I need it today.” “You’ll have to call the insurance company.” “Isn’t there somebody here who knows something?” “I know exactly what I am doing. We cannot fill your prescription.” “I want to see the manager. I want to talk with somebody else.” “You’re in the wrong store, and your insurance won’t pay, and there’s nothing we can do.” “Give me somebody else.” “There isn’t anybody else. May I help you now, sir?”. “Wait just a minute; I’m not finished. I’m not satisfied.” “May I help someone else now?”.

We were all getting nervous. Somebody needed to do something. Finally the pharmacist came out from behind his counter, and he did something. He did something that got things moving in the right direction. He just came out with his hands like this: T.

What does this mean? T It means “time out”. It means, “Things are too hot and heavy, take a moment.” Time out. Time out to get out of this mess, time out to back off, time out to get perspective. If you have small children who are getting wound up, time out means sit over here and calm down. If you’re on the athletic field, T, time out means we’re going to stop the game for a few seconds. Somebody needs help. Somebody needs a quick strategy session. Every now and again, we all need “time out”.

I’ll bet I will get no argument from the balcony over the value of a summer time out from school. I’ll wager that it was not a teenager who came up with this notion of year round school. We like time out.

I’ll bet I will get no argument from the workers in the crowd, those who put in long hours and spend tremendous energies getting the job done. I have to tell you I am astounded at how hard people in this city do work! Long days, into the evening hours, six or even seven days a week – the work ethic is alive and well in Washington! But, still, I’ll wager you cherished that week or two of vacation, didn’t you? You needed that time out. Even if you do it like I have to do it, a day here and a day there, it’s precious. One of our members tells me she just takes mental health days every now and again. Time out just to sit and think, or maybe just to sit and leave the thinking to somebody else. Time out is wonderful.

But what if after “time out” there was never any “time in”?! What if the “time out” session never ended, and nobody went back to work? You told little Susie to sit in the corner and take “time out”, and you went back to turn her loose, but she said, “That’s all right, daddy. I like it here in the corner.” So what if after a long, hot summer of freedom, the folks in the balcony decide, “I’m not going back to school this fall. I like it out here better.” What happens then? So what if after Norv calls for a “time out” and the ‘Skins gather at the sideline, the quarterback says, “I don’t want to go back in. I’m happier here on the bench.”? What happens then? What if “time out” never gives way to “time in”? So what if tomorrow morning, you decide, “You can take this job … “. Oh, better not go there.

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J Bernard Taylor

commented on Sep 17, 2008

I liked the dialogue between time out and time in. I would have liked to have heard more about the value of time out in order to have a more effective time in. It is not either or. Both time out and time in are important. Jesus told his diesciples to come apart and rest a little while. You used the illustrations of time out in the beginning. But later on you seemed to downplay the importance of time out. Time out is used as a preparation for time in. Also the Bible says that time shall be no more in heaven. Time out shall be forever. But I assume that time out and time in will work in perfect harmony. There will be no distinction between the two because everything will be perfect in heaven.

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