Thursday, June 18, 2009

Right On Time

Very recently I read two timely pieces about time. Shared below, the first was written by author Henri Nouwen; the second by my former employer and forever mentor Jesse Palmer. I read them upon my abrupt return from Haiti, when I was reeling from the whirlwind trip. It was a revelation that the number of hours I spent with the children wasn't what determined whether my trip had impact; instead, I was in Haiti "for such a time as this" - God's timing, His call, His purposes. I invite you to read these two passages and consider Jesse's question: "How do you keep time?"

Clock-time is the time we have in this world. That time can be measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Our clock-time, chronos in Greek, can become an obsession, especially when all that we are is connected with the clock that keeps ticking whether we are awake or asleep. ... All these concerns about our clock-time come from below. They are based upon the presupposition that our chronology is all we have to live. But looked upon from above, from God's perspective, our clock-time is embedded in the timeless embrace of God. Looked upon from above, our years on earth are not simply chronos but kairos - another greek word for time - which is the opportunity to claim for ourselves the love that God offers us from eternity to eternity. And so our short lives, instead of being that limited amount of years to which we must anxiously cling, become that saving opportunity to respond with all of our hearts, souls, and minds to God's love. ~ by Henri Nouwen

In Greek there are two words for time - chronos and kairos. Humans are consumed by the former. For us it's "real" time. It's the way we measure the length of life and schedule our the spending of heartbeats and breaths. For God, on the other hand, a thousand years being a day and a day a thousand years has a divinely different tick on time. We're all about time. He's all about timing. We're chronic about chronos while God really cares more about kairos. The mother of Gospel music Mahalia Jackson had a great saying, "God doesn't always come when you call, but He's always right on time." He's never too early or too late, always right on time ... the right time. His time! How do you keep time? ~ by Jesse Palmer

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