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"'Rubber Time', or Never Be Late Again!"

June 03, 2019
By Pastor Bill Te Winkle

Does ‘time’ own you or do you own ‘time’? I am annoyed when people are late; I get upset with myself when I am running late, manufacturing excuses as I zoom down the road trying to make up time; if I wait on a service provider more than 10 minutes for an appointment I will usually complain and/or leave.  So, yes, ‘time’ owns me.

Maybe I have it all wrong, and the people who don’t worry about being on ‘time’ are the smarter ones.  Doug Bratt, who writes commentary for a Calvin Seminary website, describes how his Indonesian friends refer to ‘rubber time’.  Meeting times are just suggestions.  Indonesians are, Bratt writes, often 30-45 minutes later in appearing than the time originally agreed upon. But, and here is the key, when they show up they are really ‘present’ in the moment.

I think this is a brilliant approach to punctuality.  You will never be late again if you simply train your friends to know that you live by ‘rubber time.’  You are stretching the definition of being ‘on time’ to arrive, say, within the hour.  But, and this is critical, when you show up you will not look at your mobile device; you will not be thinking about where you need to get next; you will be fully engaged in being present in the moment and in the lives of the ones you are with. 

Now, if you decide to try this (or maybe you are already living in ‘rubber time’), I make no promises about how often you will be invited to dinner parties. I give no assurances that your dentist will see you when you arrive.  But, I guess if the ‘cable guy’ and delivery companies can give us three hour windows for a so-called ‘appointment’, why can’t we all try it?

Bratt suggests that perhaps we should look at Jesus’ promise that he is ‘coming soon’ (Rev. 22:20) as a ‘rubber time’ event. Jesus isn’t late, as we in the western world define time. He is going to show up ‘soon’. He isn’t ‘late’ to the promised party, he is just fully engaged elsewhere for now. But, when Jesus does arrive, we will see him face to face. And time will matter no more.

I cannot wait!

Pastor Bill