Saturday, January 30, 2021

An Invitation into Rest | Receiving Jesus' Kairos Over Chronos

The Bible Project | Holy, Healing, Whole-making Rest in Jesus

The Rest of God Can Restore Our Souls As We Begin 2021

Are we still offered whole-making rest from Jesus even when political upheavals, a pandemic, and our hidden personal needs continue to rage? With so many news reports and changing headlines to consider, how do we stop and trust again that awareness of everything 24/7 is not required for there to be peace? Can we simply be still and enjoy the small things each day? Or does this seem like an invitation into a fantasy? 

I love how A.J. Swoboda addresses some of this in "Chapter 8 | A Wanderer's Rest" in his book, The Dusty Ones: Why Wandering Deepens Your Faith:

As Americans, we see rest as largely environmental and emotional. We see rest as something that's fundamentally self-created, self-initiated, and self-made. The Bible takes no such individualistic perspective on the topic of rest. Nor is rest something that comes with getting our lives in order necessarily. Rest, as we come to find in the story of Moses in the desert, is something God finds on our behalf. "The Lord went before them ... to find them a place to rest." What kind of God does this? What kind of God has time, let alone a passion, for finding rest? ... While other gods may demand seven days of work with no rest whatsoever, this God is different. The gods of contemporary society rebel against this kind of Sabbath insistence. Get to work, they say, never rest. Or you'll get the pink slip. ... The first thing in the Bible that God makes holy is a day, the Sabbath day. And when Sabbath isn't honored, all of God's creation begins to break down. In the same way that God invented the sun for our plants to make chlorophyll, God invented rest that we might live and enjoy living. + pgs. 134-135

In my own story right now, being a man, a husband, a father of four, along with being a neighbor, a citizen of Worcester, and a city pastor continues to stretch me as my marriage, parenting, neighboring, ministry, and work all overlap within the confines of my house and the limited roads I get to drive and walk. Mental cracks and crevices continue to get revealed. And I need rest and grace to fill in the cracks each day I surrender to my limitations. I need the Lord to go before me to find me rest today, otherwise I'll just keep working, wandering, and wilting away.

As this pandemic continues in 2021, there is a call again to me, and to each of us, from a steadfast, mysterious, and yet personal cosmic voice inviting us to enter into His rest in the midst of our mixed emotions and ever changing environmental circumstances. Jesus invites us to trust Him and be present with Him and each other in this moment in time while not being bound by it.

Do We Need the Scent of Eternity in Order Not to be Enslaved to Chronology?

Below is an excerpt from Mark Buchanan's The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (from "Chapter 2 | A Beautiful Mind: Stopping to Think Anew") that reflects on the concept of eternity freeing us from chronology:

The Greeks understood. Embedded in their language, expressed in two distinct words for 'time,' is an intuition about the possibility of sanctified time. Time, they knew, has two faces, two natures. It exists in two separate realms, really, as two disparate dimensions, and we orient ourselves primarily to one or the other. One is sacred time, the other profane.
The first word is chronos familiar to us because it's the root of many of our own words: chronology, chronicle, chronic. It is the time of clock and calendar, time as a gauntlet, time as a forced march. The word derives from one of the gods in the Greek pantheon. Chronos was a nasty minor deity, a glutton and a cannibal who gorged himself on his own children. He was always consuming, never consummated. Goya depicted him in his work Chronos Devouring His Children. In the painting, Chronos is gaunt and ravenous, wild-eyed with hunger. He crams a naked, bloody-stumped figure into his gaping mouth. Peter Paul Rubens depicted Chronos even more alarmingly: a father viciously biting into his son's chest and tearing the flesh away, the boy arching backward in shock and pain.
Chronos is the presiding deity of the driven.
The second Greek word is kairos. This is time as gift, as opportunity, as season. It is time pregnant with purpose. In kairos time you ask, not 'What time is it?' but 'What is this time for?' Kairos is the servant of holy purpose. 'There is time for everything,' Ecclesiastes says, ' and a season for every activity under heaven.'
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, ... a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, ... a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. (3:1-2, 5-8)
This year, this day, this hour, this moment each is ripe for something: Play. Work. Sleep. Love. Worship. Listening. Each moment enfolds transcendence, lays hold of a significance beyond itself. Ecclesiastes sums it up this way: 'I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end' (3:10-11).
Chronos betrays us, always. It devours the beauty it creates, but sometimes chronos betrays itself: it stirs in us a longing for Something Else – something that the beauty of things in time evokes but cannot satisfy. Either we end up as the man in Ecclesiastes did: driven, driven, driven, racing hard against chronos, desperate to seize beauty but always grasping smoke, ashes, thorns. Seeking purpose and finding none, only emptiness.
Or we learn to follow the scent of eternity in our hearts. We begin to orient toward kairos. We start to sanctify some of our time. And an odd thing can happen then. Purpose, even unsought, can take shape out of the smallest, simplest things: 'I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God' (Eccl. 3:12-13).
This is a gift of God:  to experience the sacred amidst the commonplace – to taste heaven in our daily bread, a new heaven and new earth in a mouthful of wine, joy in the ache of our muscles or the sweat of our brows.
... Maybe it's time to change your mind: to stop feeding Chronos his own children and start sanctifying time.  
+ pgs. 36-38

Stepping into Kairos Time in 2021 instead of exhausting ourselves in Chronos during the coronavirus pandemic 

Today, which time dominates your life? Kairos or chronos?

Right now I'm striving against chronos. As much as I want this pandemic to reach its end, because I do not see everything, I admit that there are and must still be incredible moments of freedom and rest Christ is inviting me, and you, into each day. And I believe His kairos moments bring me back to awe and contentment. I need to welcome Jesus into each day so I don't just end up with me, striving alone, counting down the minutes until the next "better" thing happens while missing all the surprising graces in the in betweens. 

Would you stop and consider with me, "What if Jesus is present with us right now, always, and He is offering us a different way to see things?" Would it be Good News for you to hear Him say, "Come to Me, (insert name), when you are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest"? Who else is offering us such an invitation regardless of whether we deserve it or not?

For me, I know need to turn my thoughts to Jesus when I feel like I'm drifting or failing. I need to gracefully loop back to what He began, and trust He will fulfill what He promised as I rest in the story He is writing for me, my family, and my friends and neighbors today. And I believe He is writing a similar story for you. May He give you pause to catch your kairos moment today.

For more excerpts from The Rest of God, check out these links: 

+ City Notes | The Rest of God Part 1 of 3
+ City Notes | The Rest of God Part 2 of 3
+ City Notes | The Rest of God Part 3 of 3

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike “Sully” Sullivan

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