“Tuesday Afternoon” by The Moody Blues

I’m fairly convinced that the type of popular music that we like is linked to when we were juniors and seniors in high school. My personal favorites include Peter, Paul, and Mary, The Birds, Three Dog Night, The Rolling Stones, James Taylor, The Who, The Beatles, and, especially, The Moody Blues, who I repeatedly listened to as I read and reread The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Whenever I think of Middle Earth I can’t help but think of the mystical sounds of the Moody Blues. “Tuesday Afternoon” even has the sounds of the longriders’ horses galloping along.

Here I am past the tipping point of middle-age, and life’s bookends are staring me square in the face. This is an in-between time. On the other hand, rethinking childhood and adolescence is an idyllic mixture of triumphs and wounds, from first love to broken bones, winning seasons to a Charlie Brownish dropping of the ball. On the other hand, I anticipate the future and new adventures. One week from tomorrow the South Carolina Gamecocks start a new football season. I long for a future where Narcie is done with chemo and all is well with family and friends! It’s hard at whatever the age to keep one’s mind off the “befores and afters” of life.

But God is eternal and knows no time though time-bound for a short period through Jesus’ incarnation. For God, age is ageless. For God, time is always kairos not chronos. “Kairos” is one ancient Greek word for time. It defines time by the content of the moment. “Chronos” defines time in the manner that I am most accustomed. By its definition time is spatial, chronological, and linear. Chronological time views things as “fifteen minutes UNTIL something,” or “thirty minutes AFTER something.” Conversely, kairos time is more digital than spatial. It is defined by the God-moment, the experience rather than by what comes before or after.

In this regard our watches and clocks which display time in a spatial way, with spaces between seconds, minutes, and hours, are antithetical to a celebration of the “now.” Digital clocks and watches flash the exact hour and minute begging us to think in the present and live in the now without pressing us to think about before and after. I’m almost to the point of only using the time on my smartphone because it is always accurate for the present moment whenever that is. God help us to live in the now!

The past may have been great, and I am looking forward to better days ahead, but to live faithfully in this world is to do it as God does – giving my complete attention to whomever and whatever is before me right now. Martyred missionary Jim Elliott said it best, “Wherever you are, be all there!” So wise and true! Therefore, if our favorite music is defined by the content of certain life stages, may we dare give another listen to the sounds about us today? It might not be just classical, swing band, country, rock and roll, pop, the blues, or ballads or my favorite XM station “The Blend” that we need to listen to today. There just might be enough God-presence in the sounds of a loved one’s sigh, the arthritic creaking of our own joints belying the hopeful maturity of the years, the halting words of a recovering loved one or friend, or the sweet-baby noises unintelligible yet profoundly clear in their message of love upon which we need to focus today.

So, my hope today is to hoist my antennae and soak up where I am, with whom I am, and especially ponder the whispers and shouts of the Living God. Jesus, I want to listen to your music today so focus I will, for time is of the essence! Today I will choose to think digital and live digital in God’s Time. I am listening, Lord!

Time Will Tell

Six days until the Gamecocks play East Carolina and we find out if the pre-season hype is reality. Time will tell, right? I have had time on the brain after getting an email yesterday from the Ball Watch Company. They’re the makers  of the watches that have been the standard for accurate time ever since the heyday of railroads when being on time could literally be the difference between life and death. Think the recent movie “Unstoppable.” Ball watches are the source of the saying about “being on the ball.” Somebody who is “on the ball” is with it, on time, and a hard worker.

I’m a fan of satellite music and get caught between listening to the 60’s and 70’s so I usually split the difference and listen to “The Blend” or “The Bridge” stations because they include my favorite songs from both decades. Here’s my theory. I’m fairly convinced that the type of music that we like is connected to when we were in high school all the way through our sophomore year in college. Little wonder that I’m a fan of the Mama’s & Papa’s, the Beach Boys, The Beatles, Three Dog Night, the Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Carole King, The Who, and, especially, the Moody Blues, who I repeatedly listened to as I read and reread The Hobbit  and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Whenever I think of Middle Earth I can’t help but think of the mystical sounds of the Moody Blues.

Here I am more than a bit past middle age, and life’s bookends are staring me square in the face. I have great hope that I’m aligned with God’s future for me but I can see plenty of potential pitfalls. I can look back at my youth and see a bumpy mixture of triumphs and wounds, too, from first loves gone wrong to broken bones, winning seasons to a Charlie Brownish missing of the ball. It’s hard at whatever age to keep one’s mind off the before’s and after’s  of life.

This is when I’m helped by thinking about time from God’s eternal perspective. With God, age is always ageless. There is always immediacy! For God, time is always kairos not chronos. “Kairos” is one ancient Greek word for time that defines time by the content of the moment. “Chronos” defines time in the manner that I mostly use. By definition “chronos” time is spatial, chronological, and linear. Chronological time views things as “fifteen minutes UNTIL something,” or “thirty minutes AFTER something.” Conversely, “kairos” time is more digital than spatial. It is defined by the God-moment, the experience rather than by what comes before or after.

It’s not so great that I like clock faces that are more “chronos” than “kairos,” even though my phone and TV time displays flash the time of the moment in a great “kairos” way. “Chronos” time is antithetical to living in the moment. If our favorite music can be defined by the content of certain life stages, may we dare give another listen to the sounds around us right now and hear God? My prayer is that I will grasp God’s “kairos,” this critical moment that God offers as a gift sublimely called “the present.” There just might be enough God-presence in the sounds of a loved one’s sigh, the arthritic creaking of our own joints threatening us with our own mortality and hopeful maturity, or the sweet-baby noise unintelligible yet profoundly clear in their message of love.

Here’s the message for me: Time is of the essence, literally! As much as I find Ball watches and their spatial “chronos” faces both familiar and comfortable, and I spatially can’t wait until next Saturday’s football game, I pledge this week to think and live digital in God’s “kairos” time. Time will tell!