Amy Carmichael has beautifully bound together in her poem the two ancient concepts of time. One, expressed by the Greek word chronos, refers to “the minutes of our hours,” or the notion of duration and succession. The other, kairos, is what Dr. James Houston calls “time evaluated,” signifying instrumentation and purpose. “Man needs to see himself significant, in the light of events, of kairos, seeing himself hopefully in the context of a greater reality than his own temporality, of chronos.”
“I hold me fast by Thee, Ruler of time, King of Eternity” is the expression of faith that my temporality is understood only in the infinite context of eternity. Not even the tiny dewdrop lacks the care and attention of the Lover of all. Shall I then think of any detail of my earthly life, even so little a thing as a minute of one of my hours, as without meaning? How shall I answer to my Master for my time?
I was brought up to believe that it is a sin to be late. To cause others to wait for you, my parents taught us, is to steal from them one of their most precious commodities. Time is a creature—a created thing—and a gift. We cannot make any more of it. We can only receive it and be faithful stewards in the use of it.
“I don’t have time” is probably a lie more often than not, covering “I don’t want to.” We have time—twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week. All of us have the same portion. “If the president can run the country on twenty-four hours a day, you ought to be able to get your room cleaned” is what one mother said to her teenage son. Demands on our time differ, of course, and it is here that the disciple must refer to his Master. What do You want me to do, Lord? There will be time, depend upon it, for everything God wants us to do.
When we are in the midst of great busyness, we hardly think of kairos and see chronos only as hours that are flying by faster than we can count. It is when things are quiet that we become aware of minutes that tick slowly by. Then we have opportunity, perhaps, to think of their deeper significance in the light of eternity.
Elliot, Elisabeth. 2021. Joyful Surrender: 7 Disciplines for the Believer’s Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell.
We have just completed a 6-Part Study of Elezabeth Elliot’s classic book, Joyful Surrender. It is available as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Lesson Subscription Service. It is also available on Amazon