What Time Do You Have? (Issue 1.6)


Originally Written for 9/28/08

A friend of mine recently forwarded this devotional to me written by Frederick Buechner:

The Greek word chronos means “time” in a quantitative sense, chronological time, time that you can divide into minutes and years, time as duration.  It is the sense that we mean when we say, “What time is it?” or “How much time do I have?”  But in Greek there is also the word kairos, which means “time” in a qualitative sense-not the kind that a clock measures but time that cannot be measured at all, time that is characterized by what happens in it.  Kairos time is the kind that you mean when you say that “the time is ripe” to do something, “It’s time to tell the truth” a truth telling kind of time. Or “I had a good time”-the time had something about it that made me glad. The ancient poet who wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes was using time in a kairos sense when he wrote of a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to keep silence and a time to speak.

I think about the concept of time a lot – not in a metaphysical as astronomical sense (mainly, because I’m not that smart) – but I guess more in a practical philosophical sense (now there’s an oxymoron!)

Seriously, though, I do spend a lot of time thinking about time.  Perhaps it’s because I face the age-old question that every working person faces: how do you balance the demands of your job with the demands of your family on your time?  We can ask the same question in ministry, in our family (spouse vs. kids vs. extended family vs. friends….), and even in our relationship with God.

I think we need to be looking at time more often in the “kairos” sense rather than the “chronos” sense – though that’s not what our society normally does.  We are very time-oriented people, so much so that we have day-times, PDAs, iPhones, or Blackberries to keep us “on-time”.  Too often we approach time with family, friends, and even with God as nothing more than something to check off our “to do” list so that we can move on to our next appointment.

But that’s not how it should be.  Have you ever tried going through a day without your watch on?  And even as I write this I realize so many in today’s world don’t need a watch because they use their cell phone or some other device to tell time.  But think how it feels when you take those things off and just focus on the moment – we feel out of place.

This week take some time (literally) to spend “in the moment”.  Don’t get caught up in your schedule, but focus on filling the time with goodness and God so it overflows to the people you come in contact with.  It’s one way to make a difference in their lives.

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