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Gift of Time

The first chapter of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees is the best opening to any novel I’ve ever read. It is hilarious, well-written, and action packed. Most importantly, it gives the reader a deep understanding of the main character, Taylor Greer. In only a few pages, I felt like I knew her. She is a little rough around the edges, yet full of compassion for the world. An underdog herself, she is going to go to bat on behalf of those in need, especially those in trouble. Taylor is the kind of person whose crazy idea you would follow unquestionably because you know her heart’s in the right place.

            Since we trust Taylor Greer, we understand that she is going to adopt a three-year-old American Indian girl. This child, whose name is Turtle, comes into Taylor’s life in a completely unexpected and unorthodox way; yet we are rooting for them. Somehow we sense that they were meant to be together. Despite the strangeness of their situation, we feel in our bones that the time is right.

            My wife, Ginny, and I are expecting our first child in October. One of the graces afforded to parents is time. It takes nine months for a child to develop, so we have been given time in the present to live into this future reality. We are shopping for cribs and envisioning nursery colors. There are baby showers in the works and church members lining up to baby-sit. We have been given time for dreaming, laughing, planning, and playing. Time is a gift.

            A member of our community recently adopted two little children. She and her husband had waited for years. They had wondered if the time would ever come. One afternoon, she received a call from the adoption agency and in less than four hours there was a six-month-old and a two-year-old in their home. These children are gifts. These new parents are living into this reality with very little preparation and planning. Yet they trust that the time is right.

            In the Greek New Testament, there are two kinds of time. Chronos time is most familiar to us; it refers to the way in which we mark our days, seasons, and years. Kairos time, however, is anything but predictable; it is God’s time. It has to do with the immortal and eternal One who breaks into our fragile and finite existence. Jesus began his ministry by announcing that the “time (kairos) has been fulfilled” and the reign of God has come near (Mark 1:15). Chronos time marked the days of Jesus’ ministry, the progression from his baptism to the temptation in the wilderness and all the way to the cross. Kairos time had to do with good news he preached that was available to anyone at any moment.

            Here is another way to think of the difference. Chronos time measures the nine months of pregnancy or the application process for adoption. Kairos time measures your unblinking gaze into your child’s eyes. In those eyes, the whole world seems absolutely still and yet also enormously infinite.

            Time, Albert Einstein reminds us, is a human construction. It represents our perspective as a tiny planet of rock and gas, which is hurling through an expanding universe. His theory of special relativity is about chronos because it measures the movement of object in relation to the constant speed of light. Time, then, is predictable and measurable, even adjustable. We manipulate time twice a year when we fall back and spring forward an hour.

            Yet Einstein also sensed something more, certainly something more mysterious. He famously said that God does not roll dice. Biblically speaking, he was referring to kairos time. As complicated as the physics of time can be, sometimes we just know that the moment is right. We may not be able to explain it, and we don’t have to. We feel it in our bones.

About Andrew Taylor-Troutman

I am a pastor and a preacher, a writer, a husband and a father. My professional and personal lives are deeply involved with story-telling: stories that are silly and poignant or profound and commonplace. Stories that are tear-jerkers and belly-shakers. Stories about my son, Sam, and the congregation I serve, New Dublin Presbyterian Church. Each in its own way, these personal narratives shed light on the great story that God is writing with humankind and all of creation.


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9 Responses to Gift of Time

  1. David Tossie June 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    Hi there this is kinda of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Andrew Taylor-Troutman June 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

      Hey friend,

      I am not familiar with these terms; however, I recommend Word Press as a blog host. Their technology is easy to use.

      Best of luck,

  2. Verla Apela June 25, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    You can definitely see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  3. Amos Debacker June 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won’t disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I genuinely believed you would probably have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could possibly fix if you weren’t too busy looking for attention.

    • Andrew Taylor-Troutman June 25, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

      Hey friend,

      Thanks for giving my blog a chance. Perhaps you could check out some of the other entries and find something you can appreciate. Please check back!


  4. Ylx June 20, 2012 at 3:35 am #

    When I read that paragraph, I felt like I was that wrtier too. I constantly feel the pressure to make sure I’m enjoying as much as I can. I can’t believe my kids are already 9 and 7. And I’m already looking back at their babyhood and toddlerhood thinking I didn’t savor it enough. But those days were HARD!!! My kids are so much easier now, so I’m doing my darndest to make sure I savor as much as I can. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves?

    • Andrew Taylor-Troutman June 20, 2012 at 11:57 am #

      Hey friend,

      I can relate to putting too much pressure on myself. While I am not yet a father, I do think that some lessons from writing can be applied to parenting. Perhaps this will help. My writing mentor, Michael Dennis Browne, thinks of his writing as a single candle. It the grand scheme of things, such a flame is very small; however, it does provide a little light to see by. Don’t let the pressure to be perfect get to you; shine your light.

      All the best,

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