Our church recently worked through a series of teachings on Sabbath. Far beyond a weekly holiday, this biblical concept is loaded with meaning, with each additional layer creating a rich tapestry of teaching that displays the love and goodness of God in fresh ways.
This series of blog posts will aim to capture some of the highlights of discovery along the way.
Even a casual sports fan knows Tiger Woods. Far fewer folks would recognize the name of Sean Foley, despite the intricate links between the two. You see, Sean is Tiger’s swing coach. It may strike some as bizarre that a world-class golfer, who has likely forgotten more about swinging a golf club than any of us will ever know, would hire as his coach somebody whose skills are apparently insufficient to make the PGA tour himself. However, everyone who has ever benefited from a counselor, a life coach, or a perceptive friend will tell you that there is great worth in having access to a second set of eyes. Inevitably, things from “out there” look a lot different than they do from “in here”. Every one of us has blind spots, none of which can be seen with our own two eyes. We need others.
When you consider the concept of time, there’s certainly no more “out there” perspective than that of God, the One who lives beyond time, in the incomprehensible realms of infinity and eternity. While we feel the pinch of living in a temporal environment and struggling to manage the ticks on our clocks, God’s perspective may prove uniquely insightful.
In seeking such insights, some have noted that the Greeks had multiple terms to speak of time. There are two that are frequently highlighted:
This term speaks of the opportunities and possibilities that exist within a moment. Any point on the timeline holds a significance that reaches far beyond itself. There is a ripeness, from which unforeseen wonders may spring. Every second is that loaded. This term (KAIROS) is the term used in Ephesians 5:16, when we are urged to “make the most of the time.”
English speakers will see immediate links between this root and multiple terms in our vocabulary (chronology, chronicle, chronic). This term would have been particularly vivid within the Greek mind, as it was also the name of one of their gods, a particularly nasty non-headliner on the pantheon of divinities. Artwork through the ages depicts Chronos as a glutton. But he didn’t just stuff himself at the buffet; he gorged himself on his own children! Always consuming but never satisfied, Chronos is a vividly disturbing portrayal of what can happen when concepts like time, labor, and rest are viewed apart from God. Things get out of whack in a hurry: Bodies break down, minds grow weary, hearts feel heavy, and juggled balls become dropped balls. Relationships start reeling, pleasure goes missing, and joy becomes a struggle. Life feels dead, and we begin caring less about those things about which we care most.
Not so long ago, I found myself in a season of deep weariness. A cocktail of outer circumstances and inner struggle mixed perfectly to land me in a bad place. In a moment of self-conversation, I asked myself:
“Jason, are you burnt out?”
I’m not so naïve as to have imagined that this question would never arise, but I always envisioned such a thought taking place 10 or 20 years from today. Even still, the inner dialogue was calm. I wasn’t in a state of panic so much as in a search for truth. I replied to myself:
“No, I don’t think so. But I have all the right ingredients in the bowl. None of them are in concentrations that would lead to burnout. But if I stir this recipe long enough, it’s not going anywhere good.”
And that’s what happens when we faithfully (or mindlessly) bring our offerings to Chronos. When we handle time recklessly, without rhythm or rest, we find our quest for efficiency or achievement to have turned on us. No longer are we stewarding time as the God-given resource that it is; we are now being nibbled at, even devoured, by a relentless and ruthless countdown. This sensation of being eaten reveals how far we’ve strayed from the order of Creation. In Eden, God ended each day proclaiming the goodness of all that had been done; it was satisfying, it was sufficient. Yet all too often, God’s image-bearers end days sighing in frustration over lists of what didn’t happen. It is not good; it is not enough. And Chronos continues to feast.
This is not as the Father designed it. And minus a second set of eyes, minus a pure perspective from way outside the rat race that buzzes daily past Chronos’ altar, we will remain trapped in days that lack the “good” substance of those first six days.
But with attention upon the Creator, Kairos is rediscovered and the life-giving potential and opportunity within each moment is once again enabled.
Sabbath can do all that!
- Have you ever experienced anything that you’d call “burn out”? How did you heal or recover?
- What types of ways have you learned to live well within time?
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