There was a non-injury accident on the expressway this morning. As a result, traffic was already crawling by the time I merged in from the ramp. After 10 minutes of creeping, I phoned the radiology department to alert them of the situation. About the same time, the accident came into view – a semi hit the rear end of a car – and then I was around it. All this time I was listening to some older Hillsongs music and doing a monologue about trusting God with the details of my life. I also wondered why I needed a daily lesson in patience. 😀
The truth is, right now He seems pretty intent on working patience into my life. How do I realize this? While I can be fairly slow at picking things up, at times, you don’t generally have to hit me with a 2 by 4. And recently, especially on my way out the door or on the road or at radiation, I’ve been encountering several 2 by 4’s. Yep, that’s what it feels like, a 2 by 4 right, smack into my well-planned mornings.
And therein lies the problem…my well-planned schedule keeps getting blown to smithereens. The result for me is stress and impatience, with everyone in my way. (ugh; so ugly!)
Henri Nouwen said, “Impatience always has something to do with time.” We live in the chronos, the linear chronology of days, hours, minutes, seconds. The clock is always ticking as we strive to keep up, maintain the schedule, not fall behind or run late. We experience the tyranny of lists and appointment calendars blocked off in hours so that we may accomplish as much as we possibly can in a day’s allotted time. When an event blocks us from achieving the almighty schedule, expressions of impatience result: “I wish that traffic would move, now!” “Where is she? She said she would be here at 10!” “I’ve been waiting for my ride for 15 minutes!” “This sermon is too long; he needs to wrap it up!” (Naturally, you and I would never say thaaaat!)
Nouwen said that expressions such as these “betray an inner restlessness” and essentially, we are experiencing the moment as “empty, useless, meaningless.” It is wanting to escape from the here and now as soon as possible. Sometimes our emotions are so totally dominated by impatience that we can no longer give any meaning to the moment (Compassion, p.96).
Perhaps clock time is such a merciless taskmaster because it often makes us disappointed in today, in ourselves, or our lives. Clock time doesn’t give us time to sit quietly with one who is ill and needs comfort or sit comfortably with one who is rejoicing without checking our watches. Nor does it allow us to suddenly be aware and thankful to be simply alive.
I first heard the Greek word kairos from one of my favorite professors when he invited his students to become more acutely aware of kairos in our daily lives. Kairos speaks more specifically of God-ordained times throughout history. Kairos, sometimes called the “right time” or “appointed season,” refers to God’s dimension, not limited by the past, present, or future. I need God to help me become more aware of His ordained time in my life rather than letting my schedule take the lead…because in my heart, I know that no moment of my life or any situation is ever wasted by my Father.
Nouwen uses the fullness of time as a new way to dispel clock time, too. He stated that it’s “a time lived from within and experienced as full time.”
All the great events of the Gospels occur in the fullness of time. A literal translation from the Greek shows this clearly: When the time for Elizabeth had become full she bore her son John (Lk. 1:57); When the days for Mary had been fulfilled, she bore Jesus (Lk. 2:6); When the days of purification had been made full, Joseph and Mary brought him to Jerusalem (Lk. 2:22). And the real event always happens in this fullness of time…These happenings are all announced as moments of grace and salvation.
Moments of grace and salvation; doesn’t that feel like a breath of fresh air, a crisp, cool stream, a soft breeze lifting your hair? May God’s sweet Spirit bring moments of grace and salvation afresh into each of our lives as we seek to loosen our grip on clock time and embrace the fullness of His time…His kairos.