Friday, March 8, 2013

Story about time--level 1-2 (all schools), advanced story (Christian schools)

I was asked to write a story about time. It's a good week for it, since most of North America goes into Daylight Savings Time this weekend.

John used to live in Boston, but last month, his family moved to Tempe, Arizona.  His parents were very strict.  They didn't allow their children to use their time unwisely, so there were no radios--not even clock radios, no televisions, cellular phones, or magazines in the house.  They did take the newspaper, but only USA Today.

John had the same schedule every day of the week:  he got up at 7:00.  He had to be dressed by 7:15.  At 7:30 he ate breakfast.  His parents took him to school at 7:45, and school started at 8:00.  John understood the schedule and followed it.  He didn't like it, but he followed it.

One Saturday night in March, John's parents changed all the clocks, since Daylight Savings Time started the next day.  They didn't go out on Sunday, because Sunday was the day that the family spent time together.  They had breakfast together at 9:00, they all played soccer in their big backyard from 11:00 till 2:00, and then they all came in and laid down.  After they rested, they had dinner at 5:00 and then played games and talked until they went to bed at 9:00.

On Monday morning, John followed his schedule as usual.  He got up, got dressed, ate breakfast, and went to school (you could ask lots of questions here to get repetitions of time).  He was about to get out of the car, but something was wrong!  There were no cars!  There were no busses!  There was only one person at school--a teacher walking to her classroom.  John and his father got out of the car and approached the teacher.  She looked surprised and said, "Why are you here so early?"  "Early?  It's 7:45!" "No, it's 6:45".  John's father said, "I don't understand!  With Daylight Savings Time, it's 7:45!" The teacher laughed.  "Oh, you're not from Arizona, are you?  We don't observe daylight savings time!"

John's father laughed and took John back home for an hour.  The next day, the family decided to buy a radio.  They were never surprised by time changes again.

The preceding story could be told in any school.  The following story is for more advanced students in Christian schools.

Time is a funny thing.  Time is used to schedule.  It never changes, except when you cross a timeline or go into standard time or daylight savings time.  The normal family has a schedule that is marked by the clock:  you get up at 7:00, get dressed by 7:30, have breakfast and are on the way to school by 8:00.  It never changes.  The clock never decides to stop for a few minutes or skip hours.

But have you noticed that time doesn't behave itself?  Have you noticed that during 7th period on the last day before vacation, it takes about 3 hours, even though you know that your period is only 50 minutes long?  And have you noticed that your vacation itself is over almost before it starts, even though you know that it is two weeks by the calendar?  Have you ever wondered why that is?

The Greeks had an explanation.  There are actually two concepts of time:  Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is chronological time.  It is measured quantitatively.  It never changes.  Kairos, however, is not measured that way.  It is special time--God's time--and it is measured by quality, not quantity.  For example, the time that you spend talking with good friends and the time that you spend in an exam that you haven't studied for might both be one hour in chronos.  However, the time you spend with good friends seems to last for 15 minutes.  The hour flies on wings.  But the test that you haven't studied for--it can take a year for you to sit, wishing you'd studied, while the rest of your class is busy working.  The time is flying for them, but it is dragging at a snail's pace for you.  You have been stuck in chronos while your friends were in kairos.

Kairos is even more special when you speak of it concerning God.  God is always in kairos--chronos doesn't exist for him.  The Bible mentions, "A day is as a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years are as a day (2Peter 3:8)".  We are chained to the concept of chronos, but God is not.  Therefore, he can send visions and dreams of things that are yet to be, for he has already seen it.  He can give us gifts of time that seem to last forever, yet only take a few minutes to pass.  Have you ever talked with someone, knowing that you could only spend a few minutes, and then forgot about the time?  Most of the time, chronos behaves itself and you end up being late.  But sometimes--and those times are truly blessed--you speak with that person for what seems like hours and look at the clock--and only minutes have passed.  My friend, you were in kairos.

We all live in a world that is chained in chronos.  But we can be blessed by those moments that God gives us in kairos, and we can also live in hope.  We know that one day, we will no longer be chained. We will be allowed entrance into heaven, where those we loved and lost will be given back to us, and the time that slipped away won't matter--we have a universe of time, time without end, to sing God's praise.  Until then, let's just be thankful for the time we have.

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