There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11)
One of the most challenging topics to study in science, philosophy and theology is the idea of time. One helpful teaching for me has been the distinction between what we will call chronos time and kairos time.
Chronos time refers to the 24 hours in a day that is given in exact equal amounts to every person. We cannot add to it or take away from it. It is dictated by the physical universe. Rich and poor alike have the exact same number of seconds every day as an equal inheritance as human beings on this planet.
Kairos time, on the other hand, is what scripture refers to as “redeemed time.” When we invest our chronos time in acts of service, love, stewardship, worship and rest, we transform it into kairos time. On the other hand, when we are driven by the things of this world, the desire to grow rich, the thirst to amass possessions and wealth, the hunger for position, pride, plaudits, power and praise, we are stuck in a frantic desire to hold on to chronos time. And it constantly slips through our fingers.
Time is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. He put in place from the first day of creation when he created morning and evening. In essence, God created time for us from his very first words of, “let there be light.” By creating us in his image it was his intent that we fill our chronos days with kairos moments. In fact, it is his will that our entire lives be overwhelmed by kairos time.
The enemy hates kairos time, and he will do everything he can to persuade us to embrace the frantic, hectic, stressful alternative of a life dominated by the unstoppable passage of chronos time. Which kind of time dominates your life? As you lay in bed at night and look back on your day, do you feel like the time just slipped away from you, leaving you little to point to in terms of memorable moments that will linger in your memory for days or weeks to come? How driven are you by chronos time, and how will you create kairos moments?
As stewards of all of God’s creation, including time, we must fight the temptation to believe we somehow ‘own’ our time, for the time we own will never be more than chronos time. Instead, we are called to surrender all of our ownership of time and ask God to work in and through us to redeem every moment of it into an offering back to him. Will you allow God to fill your days with kairos moments, even when it conflicts with your chronos-driven schedule?
Find a few moments of silence and think back to the week that has just passed. What are the first images that come to mind? A year from now, is there anything that happened in this past week that you will be able to remember clearly as if it were yesterday? Now think back a year ago and write down two or three memories that come to mind. Why are these so clear in your memory? These two exercises may help you identify what, for you, are kairos moments. Now take out your calendar for tomorrow. What would it mean for you to intentionally seek to create kairos moments in your day tomorrow? What will you have to set aside, choose not to do, or postpone in order to allow God to fill your day with kairos moments? Is there a friend you need to visit, a call you need to make, a letter you need to write, forgiveness you need to ask for, a stroll you need to take with a loved one, a volunteer opportunity you need to follow up on, an act of generosity waiting to be fulfilled? You will have exactly 24 hours of chronos time tomorrow, how much of that will you decide to transform into redeemed, kairos time?
Lord, I confess I have lived my life as if I owned every hour of every day. Time seems to be slipping by so quickly, and sometimes I look back and wonder where the months and years have gone. I realize how much of my life is driven by my love of the things of this world. As a result, I have had far too few kairos moments in my chronos-driven days. Lord, today I give my time back to you. It was never mine anyway. I pray that you would take this day and help me fill it with rich, meaningful, selfless and service-filled moments. Please don’t let me miss an opportunity to transform a chronos hour into a kairos moment. My time is yours, Lord, show me how you would have me invest every minute of every day in a way that honors you, serves your kingdom, and brings you glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.