Recently a friend and I attended a church related event. Since I have trouble driving to unfamiliar places at night my friend agreed to drive. The event was to start at 7PM. So we left at 5:30PM, plenty of time to enable us to arrive on time. My friend also told me that she was familiar with the route to our destination.
All was going well until we came to a certain intersection. My friend said that she usually went straight ahead at this intersection, but her pastor usually made a left turn there. I guess the expectation was that it was a shortcut. So we turned left. However, as we continued, my friend said that maybe this wasn’t the right way to our destination. By now it was quite a bit later than the intended 7PM arrival time. My friend was getting upset about our now being in some unknown location on this almost deserted road, so she stopped at a small diner to ask for direction. Essentially, the directions were to get back to the intersection where made that left turn. Now it was almost 7:30PM. Eventually we found ourselves at a location familiar to my friend, and from that point we arrived at our destination without any further problems. We arrived about ten minute to eight, expecting that we must have missed most of the event. However, when we entered the building where the event was being held, nothing was happening except people talking among themselves. A few minutes later, right about 8PM the event began.
Despite our unplanned “tour of Cape May County”, we had arrived right on time, just at the right time. I thought to myself, maybe this was an example of God intervening to get us to our destination just in time – the right time. Which reminded me of some theology I had been reading over the last few days. It was the distinction between two ancient Greek words concerning two different ways of understanding time. On the one hand there is Chronos time, meaning clock or calendar time, which is what we are most familiar with. When we ask about the time or date of a pending event, we are thinking of Chronos time. In this case, I understood that in Chronos time we were supposed to arrive at 7PM. If we arrived at 8PM we would be very late. On the other hand, there is Kairos time, which does not depend on the clock or calendar. It means “at the right time”. So according to Chronos time we were an hour late. But according to Kairos time we were right on time.
From time to time I mention in this blog, that when I listen to the daily news reports, most of it tends to be bad news – violence, war, poverty, disasters, etc. Some days there is so much bad news that it can seem that all is hopeless. And as a person of Christian faith, I ask “when is this going to end When is this kingdom of God, which I pray for every Sunday, going to be established on earth as it is in heaven?”
Then I am reminded that the answer to that question is in the Bible (Acts 1:1-8). Just before Jesus ascends to heaven, his disciples ask him if this is the time when he (Jesus) will establish this kingdom of God. They are thinkig in Chronos time. They are looking for a date and time. But Jesus tells them it’s not for them to know the hour or date when this will happen. Only God knows. But they will be given some indications that, in God’s time, at the right time, the kingdom of God will be established on earth as it is in heaven.
I believe that Jesus’ response to his disciples is meant for all people, including myself. Just because I am a retired ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church, God is not going to give me a specific date and time (Chronos time) as to when the kingdom of God will be established on earth as it is in heaven. I have come to believe that this will not happen instantly There will not be an event that will suddenly fully establish God’s kingdom on earth as in beaven. I believe it weill take place gradually, over an era, a period of many years. There will be signs of the kingdom of God coming on earth as it is in heaven. God will give us signs of good news in the midst of bad news and hope where and when all seems to be hopeless. If we stop, look, and listen to what’s going on in the world, we will be able to see signs that God is in the process of establishing the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. All of this taking place in Kairos time – at just the right time – God’s time.
That’s why I have a plaque given to me by my friend and partner in ministry, Patty Perez, prominently placed in front of my TV set in the living room. Whenever the bad news and hopelessness gets to me my eyes shift to the plaque, which says “A SMALL RAY OF HOPE CHANGES EVERYTHING. That’s why Patty and I established this web site under the name RAY OF HOPE MINISTRIES. We believe that, based on our own experience, and that of others we know or know about, that what God promises, God will do, in God’s time and God’s way. Not necessarily in Chronos time (specific time and date), but in Kairos time (the right time – God’s time.
I don’t know if God had a hand in getting my friend and I to that event at just the right time (Kairos time), but I do believe that God used that circumstance to remind me that, as a person of faith in God, I will know when the time comes, whether I am still living on this earth, or in heaven, I will see my hopes for the kingdom of God on earth as in heaven will be fulfilled.
Grace and peace, Ray
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Patty Perez and Ray Gough
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A Spiritual Autobiography