“Kairos. Real time. God’s time. That time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, that time we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time. In kairos we are completely unselfconscious, and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we are constantly checking our watches for chronological time…In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching on the wonder of creation.” -Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water
There are some realizations that come upon you suddenly, but looking back you realize they’ve been dancing around the edges of your consciousness for quite some time.
For me, the realization that I wanted to focus on the word kairos in 2017 was just such a realization. I’m not sure exactly when it was, maybe while sitting on the dock in South Carolina watching the dolphins, but I suddenly knew that so much of what I had been learning in 2016 culminated in one word – kairos.
2016 was a year of painful change and working with God to wrestle my heart to new places of freedom…over and over and over again.
And in the midst of the wrestling, the agonizing over my identity, the pain of rejection, the wondering what my life was really all about, God re-introduced me to the word kairos (for which you’ve just read my favorite definition at the top of this post).
On an unsuspecting Saturday in September, with a “shock of joy,” I stumbled upon an album called Kairos by the artist Jae Jin. Listening through it, I felt like I was outside of time, in another dimension, a holy place where God could touch the deepest parts of my heart and start to stir up healing. The definition of kairos and the title of the album didn’t click in my mind for awhile, but when I finally realized that I was experiencing kairos while to listening to an album entitled Kairos, I couldn’t help but laugh.
Then I started reading the book “I Don’t Wait Anymore” by Grace Thornton, and I suddenly had words to put to the subconscious frustrations I’d been having with feeling like my life was “stuck” in chronos, chronological time. Grace talked about how living life as a single person (whose life has not gone the way she thought it would – in her case not married yet and no kids) often does not have the same markers of chronological time as, perhaps, the life of a married person with a family (who has anniversaries, children’s birthdays, and the like to act as markers).
Once Grace’s words helped me to diagnose exactly what I was feeling, I was able to start processing my perceived “stuckness” with God. What he helped me to realize is that I was NOT stuck in chronos but rather living in kairos, in God’s time. It doesn’t matter if chronological time seems to be stopped for me, because God’s plans for my life exist in kairos.
Viewing my life through the lens of chronos brings disappointment, because that perspective fires questions at me with machine gun speed, “Shouldn’t you be married by now?” “Shouldn’t you have recorded another album and be touring by now?” “Shouldn’t you own a house by now?” “Shouldn’t you have more money by now?” “Shouldn’t you know what you’re doing by now?” The questions of chronos cause only second guessing, anxiety, and fear, diverting my attention and affection away from Jesus.
But when I silence the questions, and simply focus my mind on Jesus, asking to know more of who he is, and who I am because of him, it’s easy to slip into kairos. When I take the time to listen and discover that I have barely begun to understand who my Creator is and the depth of his outrageous love for me, I’m completely oblivious to second hands and minutes and months – I AM FREE. In kairos, God reminds me that HE is the one who is writing the story of my life, and IT IS GOOD. The questions don’t matter, because it is in HIM that I live and move and have my being, not chronos. As long as I am following him, living in kairos, everything will be as it should be. Everything will be alright.
So, here I am at the start of another chronological year, still feeling the reasonable and seductive pull of all of chronos’ questions, tempting me to believe I am solely in control. But I choose kairos instead, choose to free fall into living and moving and having my being in my Creator, where I can breathe easy and walk freely in his love. And I am so excited.