I was getting worried that it wasn’t going to get done. My fall “outdoor stuff” list was still incomplete when the first snow came and the temperature dropped. And since that happened, a couple of weeks ago, whenever I’ve had time to get outside and finish up the fall chores, it’s been rainy, or snowy. And when it’s been nice, I wasn’t available.
But finally, yesterday, I was able to get outside. Yes it was cold, but I bundled up and managed to finish putting away the patio furniture, mulching up the last of the leaves and doing the other things that need to be done before winter completely settles in.
I was starting to feel the pressure to complete what needs to be completed. But yesterday, as I stood outside and looked at the lawn, now free of dead leaves, and the clear patio, I paused…and watched…and took a breath…and I was reminded of the words from Ecclesiastes:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
– Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
When we consider time, it is linear. It is deadline driven. Every morning I look at my calendar and my “to-do” list and I try to figure out how I can reconcile the two things. How can I squeeze the most productivity out of the time I have today, considering that I have meetings and appointments scattered throughout the schedule? And when it looks like there are too many tasks for the time I have available, I begin to get anxious.
During Biblical times, there was a different approach to time.
Yes, there was the time the way we consider it: linear and deadline driven. That was called “chronos” time. Chronos is chronological and sequential.
But there was also a different king of time: “Kairos.” Kairos is about being in the moment. It is about what is happening right now, and fully experiencing that. In the Christian understanding, chronos was our time, and kairos was God’s time.
- Chronos is concerned with “what do I have to do next?” Kairos is concerned with “what is happening around me right now?”
- Chronos is concerned with “am I being productive enough?” Kairos is always looking for “what is God up to in the world around me?”
- Chronos is worried about not having enough time. Kairos is aware of the abundance of time we are given.
- Chronos makes us feel guilty. Kairos sets us free.
- Chronos is when we look at events through the screen of the phone, recording it to save for later. Kairos is when we set the phones down and just experience the moment.
- Chronos is our time. Kairos is God’s time.
I have always found it fascinating that when Moses asked God for God’s name (because for the Egyptians there were many Gods, and Moses wanted to know who he was addressing), God replied by simply saying “I am who I am.” (Exodus 3:14) He didn’t say “I was,” or “I will be.” It was present tense. God was reminding us that God is always in the moment. God is always present.
I still have my “to-do” list. And it is remarkably long. And I will need to accomplish all of the things on that list, as well as the items yet to be added to it.
But in my life I (and you!) need to recognize that there are also those kairos moments; those moments when we must pause, look around and recognize what God is up to. Kairos moments are those times when we allow ourselves to be ‘in the moment’ and to just experience what God is doing in our lives.
Because when we pause, and when we look…we will see. It is that season. It is that time.