Living Appropriately For The Times We’re In… And Enjoying It!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
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.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

Lately I’ve been thinking about time, in a number of senses. One is “clock time,” or “chronos time” as we might say in Bible study. This is time as a linear chronology. Minutes lead to hours, hours to days, and days to years – all passing from an anticipated future through the present moment into the past.

We each get the same 24 hours per day, and none of us knows how many days we have. So we budget our time and try to use it wisely. But what is “wisely?” I feel the need to free up some time (see last post) so as not to burn out, but how will I use my remaining time wisely?

As I think about this wise use of time, I am more cognizant of the other sense of time. This is time as opportunity or “kairos time” in biblical terms. This meaning of time refers to a set of circumstances or the nature of the moment. For example, we might speak of “the times we’re in” or say, “the time is right.” Kairos time implies a sense of appropriateness. What is right for this particular time? Weeping or laughing? Mourning or dancing?

So what time is it, and how can we appreciate it? For one, it’s fall again. I know this, not because of cooler weather (I live in Florida), but because pumpkin is back – as in pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks, and the pumpkin pancakes at my favorite breakfast place. Also the pool is getting too cold for me. So it is indeed autumn.

Without conscious effort, I find myself appreciating the seasons more. I’ve had pumpkin pancakes twice in the last few weeks, and I’m looking forward to family time and tradition at Thanksgiving. Then it will get cooler for winter with Christmas and its traditions. In springtime I’ll be back out in the garden, and then back swimming in the pool next summer. Each season is different and to be appreciated in its own uniqueness. I like that, and plan to put some conscious effort into my appreciation from now on. Eating seasonal foods and doing seasonal activities will enhance my enjoyment of each time of year.

At a more granular level, I’m noticing that each day of the week has a different “feel” to it. Because my schedule varies by day, but repeats in large part each week, each day of the week is “its own” for me, and I’m appreciating that specialness. For example, Tuesday feels different than Wednesday, and I don’t experience Saturday and Sunday in the same way. I’m starting to greet my coworkers with “Happy Monday” or “Happy Thursday,” and I mean it. Enjoy Monday for being Monday.

Even across the seven days, mornings, afternoons and evenings each have their own special feel. I enjoy rising before dawn and having my first cup of coffee by myself (with the cat) when the world is dark and still. It feels nice. Later as the sun is rising and my wife joins me, it feels nice in a different way.  I can think of several “special” times of day.  Throughout the day, I’m noticing and appreciating the different patterns of sunlight, especially those close to dawn and dusk. There are a few moments at the beginning of each day when the world turns pink then yellow-gold.  Later the pattern is reversed; the world becomes yellow-gold then pink just before sunset. I love that, even though it only lasts a minute or two.

At a much larger level, I am considering the “seasons of life.” My kids are adults. I’m successful at work, and the selfish ambition is going if not quite gone. My wife loves me and our marriage is good. I’m not old yet, but I can see it from here. It seems that it’s the beginning of autumn for  me too.  Dad has passed. Mom’s here, but who knows for how long. What should I be doing now? I’m not quite sure, but it needs to be something more than just “work,” something significant – helping my family, helping others, seeking Jesus.

Of course, things happen. When kids come home to roost for a while, it becomes time to help them. When they live far away and come home to visit, it’s time to enjoy their presence. When dad passed, it was time to help mom. It’s still time to help mom. Something is always happening,  changing what time it is. I get that at a deeper level than I haven the past.  So I am working on giving up my preplanned agenda to respond appropriately to the ever-changing times. Truly, it is my privilege and joy to help and to be with those who need me.

Finally, there are “the times we’re in” – War, Terrorism, Poverty, Strife, Revolution, Oppression, Debt, Corruption, Institutional Failures, Disease, Moral Relativism, Crumbling Social Norms, Poor Leadership, Political Stalemates, and No Answers. It’s not pretty and it’s pretty overwhelming, but we should remain optimistic. Jesus is bigger than all of that. I’m going to keep praying for him to fix everything everywhere.

Yet, there is also a lot right with the world – Life, Truth, Beauty, Honesty, Kindness, Material Abundance, Labor Saving Technology, Liberty, Family, Friendship, and Love.  I can, will, and do appreciate my individual blessings. Gratitude puts me in a good place every time. Moreover I know that God has placed me here, in this time, intentionally. There is a reason he wants me here now, amid the turmoil. You too. It’s not an accident. Let’s honor God by trusting him and enjoying living in the times we’re in.

Comments

  1. A great post — I am glad I know you!