Timing and Obedience

 

There are two kinds of time according to the Scriptures. One is Chronos, which is the linear, point-A-to-point-B time we experience as humans, and mark with clocks, calendars and dates.

The other is Kairos – God’s time. In very oversimplified terms, it’s God’s eternal invading and intersecting of our human Chronos time.

As believers, the measure of our brief lives will be the obedience we gave to God, and our responses to the Kairos moments, when His eternal plans and purposes and Voice intersected and interrupted our Chronos lives. What we do in those moments determines the value of the lives we’ve led, and the eternal reward and destiny we will have.

Jesus, in His 3 ½ years of ministry (and really, His whole life) walked in Kairos. People were constantly trying to pull him into Chronos living and Chronos activities. “Your time is always,” Jesus said. You want what you want, when you want it, how you want it. “Be our king! Show us a miracle! Prove you are the Messiah!”

When they saw a king to free them from Rome’s tyranny, Jesus saw the cross that was going to free us from the tyranny of sin. When they sought a miracle to prove he was the Messiah, He said the only miracle he was going to give them was three days dead and then Resurrection life.

He only did what He saw the Father doing. And while people paved a road for Him to be king, He followed a blood-soaked trail to be crucified. Man’s Chronos demanded of Jesus that their ideas of freedom from slavery under Rome be addressed. But Jesus walked ONLY in the Father’s Kairos, and from the beginning, He knew it would not be the road to success, but to DEATH.

You know, it’s only recently that it occurred to me that Satan was NOT pro-crucifixion. In fact, it was the devil who attempted to get Jesus to AVOID the cross by offering him kingship if he would only bow down to him…just once…come on, just a little Jesus, take the shortcut to Glory…take the easy way…

But Jesus knew that His PURPOSE was the cross. He came to DIE. And then to rise again.

That’s why when Jesus was rebuked by Peter (can you imagine the audacity?) saying, “You can’t go to Jerusalem to die! God forbid!” that Jesus didn’t say, “You’re right, of course. Thanks, Peter” but rather said, “GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!” Why? Because Satan didn’t WANT Jesus to be crucified! He KNEW something bad was coming for him, because Jesus was DELIBERATELY walking toward death on the cross!

I’m not saying Satan didn’t revel in Jesus’ torture and suffering and death, because he IS a sadistic monster that cannot HELP but feed on pain and bloodshed – but he did so likely in spite of his dread in knowing that Jesus CHOSE the cross – and that couldn’t be good news for Satan’s kingdom!

“Put away the sword,” Jesus said to Peter. “Don’t you know I could call down 12 legions of angels, if I wanted to be rescued? But this is how the scriptures will be fulfilled!”

“Now my soul is troubled,” Jesus said. “And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour’? BUT FOR THIS PURPOSE I CAME TO THIS HOUR. Father, glorify Your Name.” (John 12:26-28.

He came to die. That was God’s plan – and nothing could deter Him. Nothing did.

My spiritual mother once gave me a beautiful picture of God’s dealings. “Look at the back of a tapestry,” she said. “It’s all threads and knots and is not pretty and makes no sense. But turn it over. Look how beautiful it is on the other side! We’re living underneath God’s tapestry for our lives. Sometimes all we see is the ugly side and the things that make no sense. But HE is weaving a masterpiece of beauty in our lives, and one day, we will see it.”

God’s ways are higher than ours, His thoughts are higher. He sees the END. That is why trust and faith in His timing and His ways are so important to Him. We only see our needs, the things and people around us, the things of Chronos time. He sees it ALL. Faith asks that we trust Him, for all that we do not see – in all that we do not understand. And, faith asks that we give up the need to know. We always say, “Well, it will make sense later.” Sometimes, yes – sometimes, never. Not in this life, anyway. Amy Carmichael said, “The end will explain all things.” In this life, we may never understand the painful weavings, the sharp needle of a suffering, the snapping of a thread of relationship through circumstance or death. But we can know that though we may NOT know in this life the “purpose” of a thing, God has promised – Romans 8:28 – that He is at work in ALL things to produce good – if we trust Him.

When difficult things come, we are taught to fight, rebuke, bind, etc. And sometimes we should. But often difficulties are God’s tools to produce a greater thing. And it is HOW WE RESPOND in the difficult things that determine the value of that work of God in us.

Joshua was a young man who grew up under Moses and became one of his most valued right hand men. He served under him for many years. There may have been moments when he thought, “Moses is old. I’m watching my best years go by. I can probably lead the people as well as he does…” But rather than allow the discontent of human understanding and Chronos to motivate or even embitter him, he trusted God’s Kairos, and when the time came, he was ready, and prepared, and able to do all God asked of him. Had he let discontent and lack of trust move him, he may have tried a coup and ended up in the pit with the others who tried to rebel against Moses – and God’s ways and timing. He waited on God’s time. He was rewarded.

Elisha must have chafed under servanthood to Elijah. He left all he had – career, family and friends, to….wash Elijah’s hands. A woman’s job, by the way. You KNOW he was losing man- points for that when his old friends found out! But he stayed faithful, even though this was NOT what he expected. He trusted God – and His Kairos time. And when the time came – Elisha was given a DOUBLE PORTION of Elijah’s spirit, because he was faithful in the little things, even in the things that he didn’t understand.

Many of us sign on with God thinking, “I’ll get this, and that, and do this, and go there” and end up disappointed and hurt and even embittered because we didn’t get what we wanted or expected. We should have read the fine print of discipleship. It’s not an employment opportunity that we sign on for to get great benefits. It’s a draft notice where we sign our lives away to His service.

Yes, there are extraordinary benefits! But it’s not a negotiated contract. It’s a death warrant to our flesh, our old lives.

But oh, the glory of the surrendered life of trust! HIS choices, not mine. HIS will, HIS leading, HIS plan. The blessings of that road surpass anything we could have designed for ourselves.

I was going to be a politician. God said, “You’re going into MY service.” I was going to enroll in a local college. God said, “You’re going to Christ for the Nations in Dallas.”

I was going to be world-famous evangelist.

God said, “You will serve me in dark corners, forgotten places, bloody battlefields, and will live largely in obscurity.”

I was going to change the world for Jesus.

God said, “You will be used to change the hearts of lost and forgotten ones no one knows even exist.”

Has my life turned out like I wanted? Not even close. Would I have it different? Not for all the treasures, fame and acclaim the world could ever give.

Sometime after one of my big dreams was shattered – I had been set up to be exposed to the largest Christian radio audience in the world, then, without explanation, dropped …

…I found myself at a middle school church camp, signed up because a tiny church in New Mexico didn’t have a youth pastor and they needed someone to go with their kids…

Our cabin was the worst on the campground. Broken curfews, fights, kicked out of worship…making me wonder at first if God was punishing me for some unrepented-of sin or misdeed.

That is, until God interjected several other kids from other churches that had no room for them in their cabins, and they ended up in our cabin. And I fell in love. One had extreme asthma and I had to watch him to make sure he was ok and got his medication. One was a big kid, who, I was told, had something wrong with him – no one knew what – but if he was cornered or made fun of, he’d go violent…

…and one autistic boy of about 11 who connected with NOBODY.

One day, two kids brought Jimmy to me. “He had an `accident’, they told me, and left him with me. This poor boy had completely lost control of his bodily functions and was standing there covered and soaked in humiliation. He looked like he just had gone into another world to avoid the humiliation he was feeling – and who could blame him? I loved the kids who brought him to me and who did not shame him. I took him back to the cabin, got him to the shower, had him hand me his soiled clothes, helped him into clean clothes and sent him back to the others. I wept as I washed his dirty clothes. I felt a love and compassion for Jimmy so deep it broke my heart.

That night at worship, Jimmy came over, sat next to me, put his head in my lap and slept.

And I understood. “Inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto Me.” I didn’t have to be Mega Christian. And, I no longer wanted to be. I wanted THIS. To be with the least, whom to God are the princes and princesses that are to be at the head of His banqueting table.

If I had said, “I don’t want to go, it’s beneath my ministry gifting,” think of what I would have lost. Notice I said what I would have lost, not Jimmy. Because the reality was, instead of leaving thinking, “God must love this boy a lot to send me to him from my busy anointed life,” I left broken, thinking, “God must really love me and trust me to ask me to serve one of His most loved children like this.”

Sometimes I think of Stephen, cut down in his adolescence by the murdering consent of Saul of Tarsus. He would not know the joys of a full life: a wife, children, career, dreams.

No, Stephen was picked to be a waiter. (Acts 6:8) But he didn’t need a big ministry or a public platform; God did wonders and signs through him in his common job – one we’re not trained to aspire to in modern Christian ministry. Notice how most prophecies are, “You’re going to be great! You’ll stand before kings! You’re going to be influential and wealthy!” Not, “God called you to be a waiter, and He’s going to do mighty things through your obedience in your daily job!”

Stephen trusted God’s Kairos time, and His career choice! And he obeyed. And when the moment came, he gave an epic sermon – an entire 53 verse chapter – and then was killed. But friends, even Jesus stood up to see this and welcome him Home! “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Stephen proclaimed before he was stoned. Jesus – who SITS at the right hand of God – STOOD to receive this young hero as he gave up his life.

I promise you, he did not regret his choices. What to us might seem a human tragedy, was woven into heaven’s tapestry and was a glorious and eternal TRIUMPH!

I would rather labor and walk under circumstances that humanly make no sense, if I could have a STEPHEN MOMENT that would define all God has made me for – one brilliant comet streaking through the darkness of this sinful world, then gone – than to have all the earthly success in the world with no eternal definition of my life at the end.

Trust God’s eternal timing. Trust His ways. Never ask, “Why?” Always ask, “What for?” Not ONE THREAD of His dealings or our circumstance will be lost or useless – every one of them is going to make a beautiful tapestry of glory that will last for eternity.

Gregory Reid

My life is but a weaving

between my Lord and me;

I cannot choose the colors,

He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow,

And I, in foolish pride,

Forget He sees the upper,

And I the under side.

Not ’til the loom is silent

and the shuttles cease to fly,

Shall God unroll the canvas

and explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

in the Weaver’s skillful hand,

As the threads of gold and silver

in the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,

nothing this truth can dim.

He gives His very best to those

who leave the choice with Him.

~Author Unknown