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Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 10: Wrestling with Time
John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association
December 31, 2009
3 MIN READ TIME

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 10: Wrestling with Time

Bible Studies for Life Lesson for January 10: Wrestling with Time
John Pond, Director of Missions, West Chowan Baptist Association
December 31, 2009

Focal Passage: Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

Everything has its moment (its hour); a rhythm and
significance to the beginning and end of all occurrences. Shakespeare writes,
“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

I recall the fascination I experienced in Greek class when
introduced to the concepts of kairos and chronos when describing time. Kairos
can be understood as qualitative or meaningful time, and chronos (like
chronology) as quantitative or measured time. During our time in eastern Africa
we learned how to distinguish between these two Greek terms. Whereas in the
west we define our activities according to our daily planners measured in terms
of minutes, hours and days, etc. Africans measure in terms of events, rightness
of the moment and its appropriateness for the community.

African theologian and philosopher, John Mbiti observes,
“time is simply a composition of events which have occurred, those which are
taking place now and those immediately to occur … it is something which falls
within the rhythm of natural phenomena.”

For example, this was especially evident when attending
worship in Rwanda and Burundi.

For us as westerners, worship begins at 11 a.m. and ends at
noon each Sunday morning. Worship in Africa (and other third world cultures)
begins when the Spirit moves and ends when the Spirit leads; that is, when the
time is right. Thus, services may last four to five hours.

The Preacher, or Qoheleth states that to everything there is
a chronos and a kairos, a fixed moment and a propitious time in a rhythmic
chant singing of the spaciousness of life and its wide expanse of experiences
and opportunities. Though he seems to imply that humankind has no freedom in
the face of this inevitability of “natural phenomena” there is still the
reality that “He has made everything beautiful (excellent and appropriate) in
its time” (3:11a).

“He has put eternity into man’s mind” (3:11b, RSV). What a
thought!

We are all children of time and as such we seem never to have
enough of it. Genesis 1:26-27 describes humanity as bearing the image of God
and perhaps part of that image is the sense of eternity God has placed within
our hearts (and minds).

O.S. Rankin
writes,“It is the desire for another dimension of existence, a dimension of
fulfillment and assuagement; a dimension of sufficient for the needs of love
and the challenge of truth; sufficient for us to become the selves we were
meant to be, for the continuity of dear comradeship, and the prophetic hunger
of human hearts. The sense of the eternal is ours from the sources from which
our very being is drawn; God has put eternity into man’s mind-and heart.”