by Bill Mowry (www.alongsider.com)
It’s time to ask some questions. Not everyone is comfortable with asking questions or answering questions. Look at how politicians and teachers squirm when asked a question they’re unprepared to answer. Question asking is important. The dilemma is which questions should we ask.
Two questions are in people’s minds today. First the big one: “Why is God allowing this pandemic?” The second is more practical: “When will it be safe to start up schools or go to a restaurant?” The latter question is for politicians and scientists. The former question nags at everyone’s soul in tough times. It’s another way of asking the age-old question, “Why does God allow evil?”
But, I’m not asking these questions nor will I attempt to answer them. The question I’m asking is, “What time is it?”
The New Testament uses two different words to express the Hebrew concept of time. Chronos time is chronological time. It refers to a quantity of time or the amount of time passed (Matthew 25:19). Chronos time is the time we measure with our clocks and watches.
Kairos time is about the “right moment,” the moment of opportunity, the chance of a lifetime. Kairos time speaks of those opportune times that become turning points for us. Kairos time opens the door for God to act creatively and reveal a deeper truth than what we see on the surface. Teachers call this the “teachable moment” in a student’s life. Author Henri Neuwan documents how “all the great events of the gospels occur in the fullness (kairos) of time” (Luke 1:57; Mark 1:15; Galatians 4:4; Ephesians 1:10).
Kairos time invites me to slow down and savor the moment; learning from God in life’s routines. Chronos time is impatient living; it’s living by the clock. Kairos time calls us to live in the moment . . . and ask some questions.
My conversation with Stan was a kairos moment for him: “I’ve been thinking about this pandemic. This really is a historic event. I may never go through something like this again. I don’t want to miss God’s will for me in this crisis.” Stan began to ask some questions.
Let me throw in a bit of poetry to accent this realization.
Earth’s crammed with Heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest of us sit around and pluck blackberries.
From Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Our lives are “crammed” with heaven, the everyday intersection of life with God’s presence. Class is always in session for us because God is always teaching in everyday life — imparting wisdom in noisy streets and marketplaces (Proverbs 1:20-21). Unfortunately, we stray from the burning bush to pick blackberries. Now’s the time to learn, now’s the time to ask questions, now’s the time to pause and think.
Why ask questions in a global pandemic? Asking questions is the birthright and duty of every disciple of Jesus. Author Jan Johnson writes that Jesus asked so many questions of his followers because he was training them “to understand that life with the Holy One was interactive.” Kairos moments were created for questions.
Questions are good for us. Questions invite the Holy Spirit into this moment to be my teacher. Questions expose my heart to error and deception. Questions open my mind to new insights and application. Questions help me seek God’s will for this moment. How I answer these questions will shape my character, my values, and my actions. Without questions, I miss the burning bush.
What kinds of questions should I ask? Let’s move beyond routine questions, like “Where can I buy some hand sanitizer?” Let’s ask some heart questions. Routine questions are important but so are heart questions. Here’s a small sample of heart questions.
- What am I learning about my “consumer life” and values when I can’t go shopping?
- What does my new schedule teach me about my values?
- What am I learning about my spouse as we spend 24/7 time together?
- What am I learning about parenting when school is now in our home?
- What am I learning about loving my neighbor since no one is leaving for work in my neighborhood?
- What am I learning about God’s providence and provision in a time of furlough?
- What am I learning about my commitment to the practices of prayer and Bible meditation?
- What am I learning about which voice to listen to — the voice of culture through social media or the voice of the Holy Spirit?
- What am I learning about true friendship and how to care in social distancing?
How we process questions is important. Introverts need time alone to think deeply. Extroverts need the company of others to process their learning. No matter how we process life these days, whether alone or with others, let’s seize the kairos moment.
But, kairos learning does require some “alone” time. Like the prophet Elijah, we need alone times to hear the “low whisper” of God (1 Kings 19:12 ESV). Author Jean Fleming writes that: “We have become a people with an aversion to quiet and an uneasiness with being alone.” Sometimes being alone with God is a good thing.
I can’t resist asking one last question, “What are you doing to remember the lessons you’re learning?” I hope your answer is: “I’m writing them down.” I love this insight from King David: “How precious to me are your thoughts O God, How vast is the sum of them” (Psalm 139:17). God’s thoughts, his lessons for me, are so precious I must write them down so I don’t forget them.
It’s time to ask some questions. Martin Luther wrote that “Affliction is the best book in my library.” Our current “book” of affliction is a kairos moment, the place where life intersects with God’s presence. Questions seize the kairos time to learn from God. How I answer the questions will shape my character, my values, and my actions. Questions turn us into proactive learners and not passive observers. Questions draw us into God’s presence so we can be singed by the burning bush. It’s time to ask some questions. Which ones are you asking?