You Snooze You Lose

I'm a notorious snooze-button hitter. I love sleeping, but I'm not great at getting to bed early which leads to a recurring predicament. Most of my mornings over the last couple of decades have begun a minimum of 15 minutes later than planned. I've been known to cut it close on a regular day,  be late often (work in progress...) and cause jaws to drop if I'm early. On 2/3 of those days, I'm usually sporting yet another ponytail all in the name of a few more minutes of sleep. This frustrates my husband to no end as he's the type to set an alarm and then actually wake up when it tells you to, like most people. As I'm snoozing through my alarm, he isn't. Lucky him! The snooze button, unfortunately, is a liar. I hadn't realized that all it really does is make me late and more tired. The truth is that it merely makes the inevitable reality more difficult than necessary. Waking up is inevitable. When I choose to do it greatly impacts the kind of day I have.

Spiritual life is the not all that different. In Ephesians 5:15-17, Paul instructs us,"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." This is quite difficult to do if we are asleep or adrift. God often uses trials as a spiritual alarm clock. He wants us to wake up out of our spiritual slumber to the awareness of His presence and work in our lives.

As a natural-born "Martha" (one with a tendency to be distracted by many unnecessary things, see Luke 10:38-42) I've always measured making the "best" use of time by getting to the bottom of my list. I suppose this has always lead me to think that my "one day" self will cross everything off my to-do list, have a clean house, have clean laundry that's folded and put away, go to bed and wake up on time and do everything in the right priority order. You know, the perfect kind. The kind where my time is organized and ticks efficiently and productively from one minute to the next.

I'm still waiting for that day.

The problem isn't that I would like that day to come, but the lie that I must wait for that neat and tidy day to get out of a spiritual drift. Why? Because that day will never come. When I sense Jesus calling me to be still and come spend time with Him, my autopilot will often automatically respond (if I'm not intentional) in this way... I'm just going to put in that load of laundry...start dinner... text this person... check Facebook, Instagram and email... then I will. In essence, I'm saying, if I can get control of my time, then I will have time for you.

Upon a deeper look at this verse, I realized that Paul is referring to a different kind of time. Chronosis the Greek word translated time which means the passing of moments but here he uses a different word, kairos.

Chronos is what we live in. It's minutes hours and days. It is how we understand and measure time. It's simply duration and quantity.

Kairos is not just a succession of moments. It points more to the right moment, the opportune time, or the ripeness of a situation. It is the opportunity and the moments of meaning and value.  It's the season. It's quality of time. It is that which time offers an opportunity to do. It denotes not the convenience of the season, but the necessity of the task at hand. Kairos is God's time.

As I wait for the elusive day to come when I become an expert manager of chronos time, God has shown me that making the most of kairosis today, in the present, even when chronos is lacking perfect stewardship. If I I'm always waiting for a future date or season to meet with God, I will keep Him waiting a long time.

When Jesus visited the home of Martha, she was distracted with much serving. Other translations say she was anxious, troubled, fussing, upset, and getting worked up over nothing. There were obviously things that needed to get done as she was the hostess after all. But the word says, she was distracted with much. More than necessary.

But Jesus said that one thing is necessary Mary had chosen it. She was listening to Jesus, and He Himself said, it will not be taken away from her. Martha was distracted. Mary listened. Martha was busy doing more than was needed. Mary sat still at the feet of Jesus. Martha was overwhelmed by the tasks in the limited time (chronos). Mary was present in the moment (kairos.) 

Paul says to live carefully, walk in wisdom, make the most of opportunities (kairos) because the days are evil. Time is passing quickly. In light of that truth, he urges us not to be foolish, but to understand what the Lord's will is. Thankfully, He didn't leave this a mystery for us to wonder about. God has revealed His will in His Word. 

I'm going to challenge you to do a couple of things:

1) Commit to finish the study. This may or may not also include starting it... :) Today is always the day. Better late than never. It may not happen in the chronos you planned, but trust that the kairos you spend with God is timed perfectly in His plan. Today is the day I will respond to the spiritual alarm clock. Today I will choose what is necessary. Today I will spend time listening to Jesus. (By the way, the study will continue to be available online over the summer for whatever kairos you meet with God!) Remember, commitment to God's Word will shape your life and the lives of those around you (Priscilla Shirer). Realize that God wants to meet with you today in whatever season you're in. In His own glorious way, He can reorganize your life and your lists around His priorities when you seek him first.

2) When you fail, choose the cross.We all do, we just don't want to be the first to admit it. My spiritual cycle used to/sometimes still goes something like this:

The Old Spiritual Cycle:

  • Spiritual alarm goes off... (often in the form of a trial).
  • Spend some time swimming in the sea of unnecessary doubt, guilt and shame for being asleep in the first place, thinking that these emotions might cause a change of my behavior.
  • Try harder. Spend time with the Lord and experience His faithfulness, love and steadfastness.
  • Fail. (Get busy, get my Martha on, get lazy, overconfident, prideful, fearful, overwhelmed, distracted.... etc.)
  • Jump or drift  into a spiritual slumber.
  • Spiritual alarm goes off....
  • REPEAT (and step 2 usually gets progressively longer the more I continue to believe I know better)

As I continue this journey of becoming more like Jesus, God has corrected a few things in that cycle.

The Less-Immature Spiritual Cycle:

  • Spiritual alarm goes off....(often in the form of a trial).
  • REPENT, a necessary and somewhat unpopular word because it takes us off the throne and puts God in the highest place in our lives that He deserves. I don't spend enough time standing in awe of what Jesus did for me on the cross. I know this because if I'm having an obedience problem, it means I really having a gospel problem. I've forgotten what Jesus did. I've forgotten His great love, His unending faithfulness, His mercy, kindness and patience with me. I need to spend some time swimming in the sea of the gospel rather than the sea of self-condemnation and self-powered effort and realize I will always need Him. Every time. The graduation of Christian living is only heaven. I need Him to break my heart for what breaks His. I need to confess my sin to God and believe that He is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). "Lesser affections are driven out by a greater passion for God, and that passion for God is created by learning of His passion for me." (J.D. Greear)
  • BELIEVE: A relationship with Jesus begins when I believe in Him. It also continues to grow as I believe in Him. Jesus lived the life I couldn't live, and died the death I deserved to die. Then God in His great power, raised Jesus from the dead...(one more time for added emphasis) ... raised Jesus from the DEAD. He breathed life back in. I don't know anyone else who can do that. Because of that, He can overcome anything in my life. Any fears, any problems, any shortcomings, any doubt, any and every lack. He is enough.
  • Spend time with the Lord and experience His faithfulness, love and steadfastness.
  • Fail. (Get busy, get my Martha on, get lazy, overconfident, prideful, fearful, overwhelmed, distracted.... etc.)
  • Spiritual alarm goes off....
  • REPEAT. As many times as needed.

If you've never taken that leap of faith to begin a relationship with Jesus by repenting of sin and believing in Jesus, I would invite you to do that today. He's ready and waiting. It is the best leap you can ever take with the greatest returns. Eternal and abundant life is at stake. Today is your kairos.

So... time to get up. No more snoozing today. No more losing out on abundant life. Seek him first and He will add everything else (Matthew 6:33). And when you failed, turn back ASAP. The cross assures of us his unfailing love, forgiveness and continual presence in your life.