Chronos Vs. Kairos

My morning meditation……
       Last night at our weekly small group at Titus 2 we talked about some conditions, or states of mind, that can lead to relapse. Historically referred to by the acronym H.A.L.T.- hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. We talked about the ways in which those conditions can lure us into irrational thinking that blocks our ability to exercise self- control ( or overrides our ability to choose to allow the Holy Spirit to be our control!) After our meeting we happened into a conversation about timing….. chronos and kairos timing….. our physical experience of linear chronological time defined by increments predicated on earth’s rotational 24 hour days versus those moments when you become aware that God has perfectly positioned various circumstances to bring about what appears to be a sudden appearing of new insights, knowledge, or divine appointments for an individual or group.
       I had recently watched the movie Contact again about a young scientist, an astronomer consumed with a passion to make contact with other sentient life in the cosmos through radiowave listening stations around the world. A wealthy benefactor makes her work possible and she eventually discovers what is believed to be an alien intelligence from whom she receives instructions to build a machine that can make it possible for her travel through time and space beyond earthly comprehension and confines by way of a wormhole in the fabric of the cosmos. Her journey, viewed from the perspective of the earthbound scientists and public, appears to have been a total failure. But what she experienced, later top-secretly revealed to have been confirmed by an 18 minute tape of static from a camera attached to her, was a surreal trip to an ideal version of her own heaven on a tropical beach where she is met by a man who, for all intents and purposes, appears to be her deceased father who had nurtured her in her astronomy passion as a child…. a God-like incarnation of someone she knows and loves that proves to be both reassuring and confusing simultaneously. Their conversation and her adamant insistence that her experience was real puts her in a position to be intellectually rejected and confused by a skeptical science, governmental, and public community. She is accused of having been set up for a psychological brainwashing by her wealthy benefactor, who is positioned as a technological genius with a grudge against the science community. This is said to be his swan-song, dying sleight of hand trick on his detractors in the science community in search of “truth”. But her on-again, off-again romantic involvement with a well- respected theological personality, in spite of her own stated agnosticism, if not outright atheism, becomes her salvation, as he comes out in support of her statements about her experience. What the science community says is impossible, he affirms is entirely possible from the perspective of a timeless and omnipresent God….. and the failure of top-brass government entities to reveal the 18 minutes of static-y tape from her trip seems to confirm the reality of her travel through both time and space, but only to the movie viewer. Her Father-God, other-worldly contact suggests that her journey is but a first step in the further evolution of humankind’s knowledge and understanding that is simply a strategically placed part of a plan that has been working itself out since the beginning of time to guide humanity to the truth. (The proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity and the as-yet unimaginable terrain to be explored or the truth of the existence and guiding hand of of a limitless God?)
       It is a fascinating study of the divergence and difference between chronos and kairos times ( and one person’s unique experience of their intersection) and the gulf that exists between a time-constrained human understanding of life and that of a timeless and eternal God. It is one of my favorite movies.
       So what, you might ask? How do such concepts and that imaginative movie inform one’s experience of reality? It gives pause to consider things like those moments of deja’vu or the feeling one has after a dream that seemed to cover a long and vigorous period of time and activity but you discover upon waking that you’ve been asleep a mere 10 minutes or even less or the way in which certain moments seem to last longer because of their beauty and impact on your life or become nearly impossible to recall because of the pain.
       It also invites contemplation on scriptures like John 6: 16-21 where, when Jesus, after walking across the water, steps into the boat and immediately the boat full of frightened disciples is at its safe harbor destination. Or the scripture in Acts 8:26-40 in which Phillip is seemingly transported by the Holy Spirit’s word and will to an encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch and once his task is completed, he is mysteriously relocated back to his group. Or Jesus’ appearance to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and disappearance when they are suddenly shown the truth of this stranger’s identity in the mealtime prayer and breaking of bread. God is the God of all of our seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years. Some of them we will experience within the rare and mysterious moments of kairos time when God says, “See. Look closely here. I am doing something new in your life.” And time will stand still for a moment while you take it all in. Thank you God for giving us glimpses into your majestic timeless existence right here in the midst of our chronos- bound existence!
       I have experienced many of those kairos moments in my life…. the moment I first saw Bill, the birth of my second child, the weeks preceding and during which I was diagnosed with “religiosity psychosis”, moments while singing in a choir or in solitude playing the piano or in prayers of mourning or intercession or praise…… moments when God drew near and whispered, “Pay attention. This moment is significant.”