Breaking down and taking time

Becky Spell Vann Contributing columnist

September 13, 2013

Could breaking down be a blessing? You’re probably thinking of times when breaking down brought burdens. I remember a long anticipated vacation when the family car broke down in the mountains. Spending one entire day with two little boys waiting for repairs was a burden that turned into a blessing. Tim was determined our vacation would not be spoiled, so we took our sons hands and were off to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Asheville mall. It seemed strange taking time to browse with no sighs or shouts to ‘hurry up – we don’t have time”. We played games together, tried on funny faces and hats in novelty shops, sat and watched people walking by, bombarded the food court, and waited for our broken down car without having a ‘breakdown’! Being stuck together in a mall was not part of our vacation plans, but it was the memory that stuck with us through time. So, breaking down can bring blessings that overshadow the burdens. It also gives time to reflect and enjoy little things often overlooked on jam packed journeys through life.

From the Asheville mall in 1988 to a Clinton cell phone store in 2013, I still struggle with waiting.. While waiting for my phone to be serviced, thoughts of what I should be doing raced through my mind like a freight train. Finally, I sat down in a comfortable chair, closed my eyes, and became lost in time while listening to music Lyrics from a special song, Breakdown, stuck in my heart. I found myself singing softly and remembering the times when Tim would turn up the volume and beckon me to listen closely to words that touched his heart – and mine. Often, he would hit replay to hear it one more time. Once, he turned off the CD player and told me his thoughts about that song. He said, “Sometimes, I wish our train would break down and we could take time…”

I asked, ‘Time for what sweetheart”? He held me close and said, “time together to…just listen to the words.”

We did take time to do things together with our family and with friends. We had a good life, but (like yours) our days were packed with important things that demanded our attention. Raising a family, working a job, being active in church, community, family, and children’s activities, keeping the home place up, and all the other ‘things’ that are important to do through seasons of life take most of our time. The world is on fast track expecting more and demanding greater results in all areas of life. Taking time from busy schedules to explore and enjoy life is endangered. Yet, the real danger comes when we assume we will always have time to do those things.

For Tim and me - (like many of you) - time ran out. As I listened to those lyrics in that store, my heart raced with precious memories of things we did take time to do, like learning to sail and sharing good music with our sons. Tim loved listening to the tunes they played when DJing. Yet, those times were often overshadowed by thoughts of workloads waiting. Taking time for faith, family, and fun (without having a breakdown) should be top priority for all of us. When the people who color our world with love are gone, broken hearts are soothed with special memories of ‘time’ shared together. Time spent working, building homes and relationships, doing things required to take care of ourselves and those we are entrusted to care for are important. Yet, taking time to honor God, cherish family, balance work and play, and enjoy life are important things that happen not by chance but by choice.

As the song played in the cell phone store, I felt a stirring to write about taking time to enjoy and cherish loved ones and the Lord.. I grabbed a pen and pad from a nearby desk and scribbled words that bridged time. Tim’s words rose up inside with a power that propelled me to share this story with you. Why?

Just read the words and think of how you spend most of your time.

“I hope this old train breaks down. Then I could take a walk around. See what there is to see. Time is just a melody. With all the people in the street – Walking as fast as their feet can take them. I just roll through town and though my window’s got a view. Well the frame I’m looking through seems to have no concern for now - so for now I need this old train to breakdown.

So I don’t even make a sound. Because it’s gonna sting me when I leave this town and all the people in the street – That I’ll never get to meet. If these tracks don’t bend somehow and I got no time that I got to get to where I don’t need to be so…

I just need this train to breakdown. But you can’t stop nothing if you got no control. Of the thoughts in your mind that you kept and you know – The wisdom’s in the trees not the glass windows. You can’t stop wishing if you don’t let go of the things that you find and you lost and you know. You keep on rolling, put the moment on hold. I need this train to breakdown, but I can’t stop now.” Jack Johnson

Why write about breaking down and taking time? A stirring in my heart and words from Ecclesiastes that tell there is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. Read the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, then ponder on Psalms 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”

God gives us a great gift as we journey through time on earth. ”I know there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God.” Ecc. 3:12-14

Why would we have to breakdown to enjoy this gift from God? We should take time to enjoy life and live closely connected to the Lord and loved ones. It becomes easier when we get still – let go and let God.

Recently, James and I talked about taking a road trip to visit my son, Clint and his wife Jamie, in Tampa, Florida. Finding the right time and taking time away from work rained on our plans.

‘We can’t really do this, can we” I asked?

James kissed me on the forehead and said, “Yes, we can. You and Tim had plans to do some things just as Sarah and I did…but our time ran out. God has given us love again and we will treasure every day we have together when we can go and do and enjoy His great gift.”

James’ words clearly summed up the message in Ecclesiastes, Psalms, and the lyrics from Jack Johnson’s song. God has given each of us great gifts and longs for us to enjoy and use them wisely. Let us untie the ribbons, open His gifts each day, and cherish our time together…before it runs out!