There were two words for time in koine Greek, Chairos and Chronos. Chronos was clock time, sequential time. Chairos was special: “the right time,” God’s Time.
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So it’s not yet chairos time to expand our business in the same or a slightly different direction. Soon, however–in a matter of weeks or months, it will be.
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God answers all prayer. He does not answer our selfish, materialistic begging. He does not move into our sinful situation. He moves us out of our sinful situation into Himself. God sometimes moves slowly. Sometimes we don’t lack faith, but patience. Wait patiently for Him, and He will give you your heart’s desire.
2) If the time is not right, He will answer, “Slow.”
3) When you are not right, He will answer, “Grow.”
4) When the request, the time and you are right, God will say, “Go.”
That’s when miracles happen.
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I have experienced God’s go, Chairos time a few times. I had a very stimulating time as an undergraduate in Oxford, almost like coming to life. And then, I moved to America, where we lived for 17 years, 12 of them in Williamsburg, Virginia. (In fact, I have lived longer in Williamsburg than anywhere else as an adult.) I did not like living in America, and I particularly, intensely, disliked living in Williamsburg. I never felt at home there, as if I belonged–and that was, of course, was because I did not.
Oddly, I felt home-sick not for India, but for Oxford, where, for some reason, I felt comfortable, as I did belong. A place were eccentricity is the norm, where conversations heady as champagne are not infrequent, with as much culture per square foot as New York or London–but so much easier to get to.
I hoped to return to Oxford for many years, but did not pray for it, since I saw no concrete way in which I could do so.
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I used to find winters depressing in Virginia, probably because I stayed indoors so much. One November, I went on an individual retreat at Richmond Hill, Richmond. I probably planned to stay the week. However, I came across a book called Lift up your Eyes, by Glenn Clark about prayer. It goes through the different things the Father desires to give us –ideas, creativity, opulence and riches (if we desire them!!), friends.
I left within 24 hours. As I read that book, I felt I had found the key I had been seeking, the missing link.
I had been hoping, not praying, for so many things. I had the horizontal view, not the vertical view. I needed to lift up my eyes to the hills.
And so I did!
I put moving to Oxford on my prayer list in December 2003. In April 2004, we were in England, and we since we now have permanent residency, we are unlikely to voluntarily move, unless God taps me on my shoulder with new marching orders. (Please don’t Lord; please leave the boundary lines set in these pleasant places.)
I had wanted to leave Williamsburg for the 12 years I lived there. I really disliked it. But things happened spiritually in those desert-ish years. When I came I was a Christian in a sense that I spent 30 minutes a day in prayer and Bible study, but God was not as central to my thoughts as he is now, I did not live in the presence of God as much as I do now, I was more of a reed shaken in the wind, than someone living in the waterfall of God’s presence, her feet on the rock.
In Williamsburg, I discovered the strength of Scripture, and started devoting 90 minutes to prayer and Bible study, no matter what else I had to do, no matter whether I did anything else significant that day or not.
I found a mentor, who went through the Gospels with me and Roy bi-weekly for five years, as well as a theology course called Sonship which he had co-written. I met weekly with another mentor, Lolly Dunlap (obit). I taught several bible studies, and gained much from my immersion in the Bible. I spoke at various church events, and gained some practice in communicating my enthusiasm and passion for prayer and scripture.
And then, slowly, it became clear that it was time to leave. I had changed. I was different. And then all sorts of unlikely things happened very quickly. Roy won a prize for the best paper published in a scientific journal in the last three years, and various other prizes for some ground-breaking work. He was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Linear Algebra Society, co-edited a successful book, was elected to various boards, won prestigious grants including a 100K one from the National Science Foundation to go anywhere he liked for a year and study. Suddenly, job offers flowed in, from Canada, and yes, the UK. We came to the UK, where he was a Distinguished Visitor at the Univ. of Manchester, and we used the NSF grant to spend a year at the Mathematical Institute at Oxford. Within a year of my prayer, I was in Oxford, and have never left.
And the last seven years in Oxford have been incredibly busy, but also creative. I have published two books, I have founded a publishing company starting with, like, zero business experience, I have become a blogger…
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I give several other examples of how things tarry, then happen, very rapidly when it is chairos time, but I won’t ramble further.
These two words, chairos, chronos keep recurring in thoughts.
Roy and I are fairly energetic and there are so many things we want to do all at once–expand the garden, the business… That’s why it’s becoming more important for me to check in with God on a daily/weekly basis to get his ideas and his perspective on what I should be doing.
First things first is the title of a book by Stephen Covey, though Jesus, of course, concluded his sermon on the mount with the same thought. Seek first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things (the things the pagans run after) will be added to you.
The thought does simplify prioritizing. The Kingdom of God on a micro-level, i.e. in each person’s life, will look slightly different. It basically means what your life would look like if Christ were ruling it/in it. For some it would mean evangelism, or feeding the poor, or preaching. For me, it would look like peace, quiet, domestic order, harmonious relationships, and using “that one talent which is death to hide” i.e. writing.
And knowing whether it is the chairos time to do something, embark on a new project, is partly determined by whether doing so contribute to ushering in, or retarding the Kingdom of God, the reign of God in my life.
And now at last, it is the chairos time for me to write–and so I just have to shrug off distraction–and get down to it.