Monday, May 16, 2011

"Doing Time" - My Article in the Southside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 225
“Doing Time”
By Rev. Greg Smith

            Today, I visited a dear young woman who is an inmate at a local jail.  Her time is almost up, and she told me that she’s counting the days.  “Twenty more days an I go home,” she said, delight and anticipation written across her face.  “I can’t wait.  Time seems to go so slowly now that my days here are short.”
            Time is a strange thing.  Sometimes it seems fast and sometimes it seems slow.  The Greeks had two words for time.  Chronos referred to chronological time, the kind that can be measured by a clock.  Kairos meant special time or sacred time—like when you can look at your sweetheart of fifty years and say, “It seems like only yesterday since the day we got married.”  Or like when you’re having your devotional time with the Lord and suddenly you look at your watch and a couple of hours has gone by without you noticing it, because the time has been so sweet.  That was Kairos time.  The trick is learning how to turn Chronos into Kairos.
            I told my friend how happy I was for her that her time in jail is coming to an end, and shared Psalm 90:4, which says, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.”  Yes, time is different to God as well—it doesn’t flow for the Eternal One in the same way it flows for us.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis said, “If you picture Time as a straight line along which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn.”  God stands outside of time, and gives us those sacred moments as we need them.  How can we make all of our days sacred days?
            Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  My friend has certainly learned to number her days.  And actually, having her days of incarceration numbered has actually given her a heart of wisdom.  She realizes how precious freedom is, and how important each decision is. 
Those who do not realize that our days are numbered are more likely to take time for granted.  They don’t carve out sacred time, but live as natural creatures rather than the supernatural beings that God created His children to be.  When you realize your limited time on the earth, then suddenly each day becomes special.  You convert Chronos into Kairos every time you get a chance, and you begin to live for God rather than for yourself.  That’s how the Christian should do time, and thereby gain God’s heart of wisdom.

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