The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos, as one might infer, refers to chronological and sequential time and is where the word chronology comes from. The word kairos signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. Kairos is a propitious moment for decision or action, a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action; the opportune and decisive moment. In the New Testament, kairos (used approximately 81 times) means the appointed time in the purpose of God, the time when God acts. Mark 1:15 – “Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'”
“This is the right time, and this is the right thing” – Sir Thomas More
On Monday, January 25th, a good friend and colleague of mine had her last day at work. She’d been offered a job to coordinate for weddings at a high-end florist she’d been doing part-time work for. Not a hard choice, really, save for leaving a community she loved and who loved and cherished her. But no one blamed her for leaving HR to work with the flowers and bridezillas (I’m sure there are bridezillas) of Beverly Hills.
Four days later, she was admitted to the hospital and began her first round of chemotherapy for leukemia (AML). I was already missing my friend when she left us for Fleurish, but now the missing is bittersweet. Julia is a Christian and is surrounded by a family of strong believers, and she’s responding really well to treatment (click here to check out her Caring Bridge site, and click here to donate).
But after hearing the news, last weekend was a hard one for me. We had no idea how Julia would respond to treatment, and diagnosis like this one was hard to swallow; it was so unexpected, she’s so young, etc. I spent the weekend reflecting on my own life, wondering if there was enough carpe diem going on. What was I wasting time on, what did I need to be spending more time on, was I doing what I wanted to do?
On Monday, February 1st, Julia’s mom posted a journal entry in which she highlights an encounter her husband had with another patient’s family member that led to Julia’s family praying for the man and his hospitalized father. Reading this, I was reminded of a professor’s lesson about kairos.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
God is always at work, whether we recognize it or not. Instead of worrying about my own agenda and plans for my life and being nervous about not having enough carpe diem going on (what’s the next step for me professionally, when will I start dating my future husband, should I dye my hair red again [I did], to list a few), I needed to fix my focus wholly on Jesus.
Modern rhetorical definitions of kairos agree that knowledge, awareness, and action are key to making the most of a kairos moment or season.
If I am not in a living, breathing, growing relationship with Jesus, I will not recognize his voice or his hand at work. Over the past couple years I have often described my relationship with Christ as a partnership. The older I get, the more confident I am in this partnership, and the easier it is for me to trust that this human will never know the future but that she can walk boldly into it with Jesus as her fearless leader. A weekend of wallowing (accompanied by a day of rain and an oncoming cold) was but a momentary lapse, and the rest of my week was spent in prayer and reflection on this season I’m in and what journey God is leading me on.
Lately, I have felt an acceleration of moments, as if they’re swirling about me like leaves swirled around Pocahontas and her compass. I’m noticing more and more little and larger kairos moments happening. I feel as if I am heading into a kairos moment bigger than I’ve ever experienced before. It’s the anticipation that makes the pleasure, said the wrapper of a Dove’s dark chocolate candy once.
And so I end this post with the verse that’s been my heart song these past few years:
“Call me, says the Lord, and I’ll show you great and mighty things you have not yet seen.” – Jeremiah 33:3
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