Sunday, August 08, 2004

My Time or God's Time?

I get so excited about all the new aspects of my spiritual journey that I tend to race way ahead of the Holy Spirit. I learn about a new prayer form and I jump in with both feet, abandoning all my old devotional tools to put all of my effort into this new form. Or I get an idea for something that would be awesome and I forge ahead with the idea before checking with anyone else let alone God, to see if this is the right time to do what I am planning.

I used to get very frustrated by this pattern in my life. I used to think that God's timing stunk, because things always seemed to either happen when I wasn't ready, or take so much longer than I thought they should. Then I developed a deeper understanding of God's Time. The Greek word for God's time is Kairos, and from now on I will be using that word.

In my time I am woefully underprepared for something, but am called upon to do it. In Kairos I will act in faith no matter how ill prepared I feel, because God doesn't always call the equipped, sometimes he equips the called.

Moses is a great example of someone who was willing to step out in faith because it was Kairos. After meeting God in the burning bush, Moses made every possible argument against his being the one God wanted, and each one God refuted. Moses was willing to step out in faith, without feeling he was prepared to do what God asked of him. Moses had faith that if it was Kairos, then everything would work out.

Conversely, in my time, I forge ahead when I am ready without a care in the world of anyone else's journey. In Kairos, the souls of those who will be on the receiving end of my program are carefully prepared to accept and receive the insights that will be gleaned from the message. This can take a long stretch of my time, but Kairos doesn't care about minutes or hours or weeks or months, Kairos cares about hearts.

In my time I do what God has asked of me, I receive extra training, I read the right books, I learn all I can from other people, and I am ready to offer what I know to others. In Kairos my head is filled with knowledge and my heart is filled with longing, but my human emotions clog up the delivery system and must be cleared away. I must be made so that I don't feel superior to those to whom God will send me. I must be made to be aware of their needs, and not my wants in every situation. I must be honed, and humbled and carefully molded. This process can take a very long stretch of my time, but Kairos only cares that the process is complete, not how long it takes.

In my time all of my affairs are in order, so this would be a great time for me to act. In Kairos events I haven't even considered are foreseen, and my waiting will assure that I am not deep into something when my services and energy are needed elsewhere.

Saint Peter the Apostle, and our first Pope is a great example of someone who had to learn about Kairos. In story after story in the Gospels we see Peter jumping ahead with a thought or action and having to have Jesus set him straight or pull him out of the water. And then just before Jesus ascends into Heaven, He reminds the Apostles not to act until the Holy Spirit comes to them. Peter and the other apostles and Mary the Mother of Jesus return to the upper room to wait. For nine days they pray and wait, ready to act, but not called to it just yet. Then the Holy Spirit descends upon them in the Wind and Fire and they are called out of the upper room to preach the Good News to those who are waiting outside. Kairos has arrived; it is now God's time for Peter to speak.

Acting outside of Kairos may be in some ways considered successful as the world views success, but it is never faithful as God views faithfulness. So our job is to prepare and then wait and pray so that when we act it is in Kairos.

In the immortal words of that great theologian Tom Petty "The waiting is the hardest part"!


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