“The time is fulfilled...” Mark 1:15
My sleep schedule has been off since last Sunday’s time change. Did Daylight Savings begin or end? I never remember. All I know is that it’s very dark in the mornings, and it’s harder to get out of bed. I’ve also been particularly busy the last few weeks, and I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water. I even missed a blog post last week because, you guessed it, I ran out of time! In the midst of the busy-ness I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with time. I keep wondering: do I have a toxic relationship with time?
Almost always when I think about time, I feel like there’s never enough of it. I look at each hour on my calendar as I plan out my day and think about how I can fit more in and squeeze more out. I always want more more more from time, and I rarely pause to be grateful and content with the time that I have.
I’m not alone in my negative relationship with time. The way we talk about time seems to reveal a feeling of deep scarcity and elusiveness: Beat the clock. Time is running out. Where did the time go? Crunched for time. I can’t seem to find the time.
Speaking of talking about time, the ancient Greeks had two words for time that both show up in the Bible: chronos and kairos. Chronos time is a linear or chronological sequence of measurements of time. Chronos time is how we mortals normally experience time. Kairos time, mentioned 86 times in the New Testament, refers to God-appointed time, which is both eternal time and also moments or seasons of time in which God brings about his will. For example, after Jesus’ baptism and 40 days of testing in the desert, Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee by declaring, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus’ use of the word kairos in this sentence reveals that this moment was chosen by God.
God, though not bound by chronos time, humbled himself to take on a mortal form when he sent Jesus to be born on Earth. What must it have been like for an immortal deity to become subject to the scarcity of time? I think Jesus in his short 33 years on Earth has a lot to teach us about how to live according to kairos time in a chronos world. Here are a few lessons I’m trying to keep in mind:
1. Spend time with God first. Though we don’t know much about Jesus’ life before he started his ministry, it’s clear from his actions and teaching that that this time was spent in preparation. Jesus had developed a strong relationship with God and a perfect knowledge of the scriptures because of this time of preparation. Once Jesus started his ministry, he was a busy dude. However, he didn’t let his busy-ness prevent him from staying close to God. He regularly went off by himself to pray or invited the disciples to retreat together for a few days to rest and refill. Jesus’ example is so clear when it comes to prioritizing time with his Father, and yet I fail again and again to rest after busy weeks or to schedule quiet time.
2. Prioritize people. Jesus knew what a lot of us seem to forget: people are the most important way to spend your time. Research backs this up: investing in good relationships makes us healthier and happier. I believe that God “wired us for connection,” as Brene Brown describes it. Our relationships with each other help us understand the deep connection God wants to have with us. I know that when I’m fully present when with my friends and family, I open myself up to moments of love that are so brilliant and awe-inspiring that I know they are a tiny reflection of the divine. I want more moments and relationships like that.
3. Don’t waste time on people or things that won’t matter in a few weeks, months, years, or eternity. Everyone knows this, but we all need to hear it again. There are so many mindless activities that we are addicted to. Marketing executives, software developers, and TV producers all spend crazy amounts of resources figuring out how to make us swipe, click, and stay tuned for more. These time wasters rarely have long-term benefits. Some days when I’m tired I’ll justify spending an hour watching TV or scrolling online as “rest” and end up feeling even more tired afterwards. However, when I spend time sleeping, exercising, meditating in silence, or doing something creative, I feel rejuvenated.
I definitely need to practice what I preach more often. Lent is a good time to slow down and to find the God-given abundance in the present moment.
What about you? What are some strategies or suggestions you have to try to turn your time from toxic chronos time to Kairos time? I’d love to hear your thoughts below, and thanks for reading!