I was born three days after my mother’s expected due date. Was I three days late? Some say that, but others would say babies are born when they’re good and ready. However, we know that it’s not uncommon for women to schedule cesarean sections and doctors to induce labor. It is evident, then, that due dates are very distinct from delivery dates. With the given information, medical professionals tell women when they can expect their children to be born. These are educated guesses. Delivery dates, however, are actual birth dates. Seems pretty straight forward, right? No controversy. No need to call the media or your local congressperson. Then why do we make such a big stink when things don’t happen when we want them to… in other words… when they don’t happen in OUR timing?
We’ve all said at one “time” or another that we are waiting for the “right time” to do something or things will happen when “the time is right” or it’s all in “God’s timing.” What does that really mean? Are we really that high-minded? Or can we admit that we’ve tried to make something happen when we wanted; but no matter how hard we tried, how determined our efforts or how many attempts, it still didn’t come to pass? I suggest looking at maternity due dates versus baby delivery dates as the perfect metaphor for how to view time in real life. In fact, many already do. However, if you still struggle with the idea of when you think things should happen and when they actually do happen, maybe we can get a little help from our Greek friends.
Ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. Chronos referred to a quantitative, sequential measure of time. Kairos was qualitative. It signified an indeterminate moment between two points of chronological time when something significant happened. Kairos means the right, opportune or supreme moment. Philosophers expressed kairos as “a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved.” In contemporary space travel, it’s called a launch window, where you have a window of opportunity and if you don’t take it or make it, you have to wait for the next window.
That said, let’s leave Greece (and outer space) and take this to the ‘hood.
I’ve been overly criticized (I think) for over-analyzing and thinking too much before I take action. I like to think of my way of delivering as a strategic game of Double Dutch. If anyone has ever skipped single rope or Double Dutch style or even watched another do it, you know that if you choose not to start already inside the ropes, you have to jump in. If you are going to have any success at this most integral part of the game, your timing has to be impeccable. No self-respecting Double Dutcher ever jumps in from a static posture. You have to get a sway going, a rocking motion, a rhythm with the ropes. You’re watching and “waiting until the time is right” (in my DJ Quik voice). Right at the perfect moment, you take the leap and it’s either hit or miss. You will either get in and keep going or you will hit the ropes, cease all rhythm and momentum and lose your turn.
That said, how does a God who sits outside of time fit in?
Early Christian culture eventually influenced the Greek interpretation of Kairos and began explaining it as the time when the Lord acts. It was an appointed time in the purpose of God. It was the crucial time when real time and Eternity intersected. Often, these were feast days or what we call holidays. This was Divine Time– perfect timing. Doing things in God’s Window almost always ensured success. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather wait for the Divine Time to do something versus rushing to do things in my own time. I would rather wait for that next window of time versus trying to make my timing fit. This may mean, *gasp* dare I say it, missing an opportunity of a lifetime. But if the time doesn’t feel right, maybe it’s not.
Think of it like this: Trying to make it through a stale green traffic light as it turns yellow as it turns red or trying to make it over the train tracks as the arms are coming down are real dangers. Pushing through situations in life prematurely, impulsively or impatiently can be just as dangerous. I’m not encouraging passivity regarding major life decisions or even those small but critical ones at the drive-thru window. But don’t you love it when you can honestly say “I’m so glad I waited to do that” rather than, “I wish I had waited?”
So remember it doesn’t matter if there are other jumpers wanting you to hurry up ‘cause they’re tired of waiting for you to have your Kairos moment… or if you’re a back-hurting, feet-swelling, can’t-get-comfortable-with-this-pregnant-belly Momma screaming “get out of me”… there’s a time for everything. Let it happen. It will be a Holy-Day!
Remember to Journey Above Your Expectations