“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”– Ephesians 5:16 KJV
The other day I was talking with Brock, our second oldest grandson, and he was commenting on the difficulty of hitting a baseball. He referenced the documentary, Fast Ball, narrated by Kevin Costner. The documentary was informative as to why the average good batter will hit in the 200’s! That means only 2 out of 10 times will they actually make contact with the ball! Pretty incredible!
How does any batter hit a 2.86-inch diameter baseball that travels 60 feet, 6 inches in 0.43-seconds? It takes one-fifth of a second for the retina to receive incoming messages, and then the ball is already halfway to home plate. The margin of error between a swing and a hit and a swing and a miss is just 20 milliseconds! That’s fifteen times faster than the blink of an eye.
Do you remember the adage “Timing is everything?” It is true in life as it is true in baseball, and I think it is profoundly true when it comes to listening to the prompts of the Holy Spirit. God puts us in the right place at the right time, but we don’t always recognize it.
“The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” – Psalm 37:23 NLT
There are two words for time in the New Testament (better titled, The Renewed Covenant). The first is chronos, and it refers to clock time. It’s where we get our English word chronology. Chronos is sequential—past, present, future. And it is linear, moving in only one direction.
Chronos is a human construct. It’s how humans measure time, but God exists outside of the space-time continuum He created. So, we have to be very careful not to put Him on our time clock.
The second word for time is Kairos, and it refers to the opportune time. Chronos is quantitative; it counts minutes. Kairos is qualitative; it captures moments. It’s the critical or the appointed time like Mordecai said to Esther:
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”– Esther 4:14 NLT (emphasis added)
Time management, as in Chronos, is important. Moses tells us “To number our days.”
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12 NIV
However, the apostle Paul took the idea of time management one step further when he told us to redeem the time. It’s not the word Chronos but rather, Kairos. And it literally means “making the most of every opportunity.”
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”– Ephesians 5:16 NLT
If we miss the opportunity, it’s an opportunity cost. I wrote about this in a past article dated, May, 8 2019.
Opportunity Cost is the loss of potential gain when an opportunity isn’t seen or seized.
It is not just a forfeiture of possibilities but the resulting collateral damage, which can also be devastating. Counting the cost is a biblical principle that goes beyond the more obvious “cost” something will require. That’s the easy part. The hard part is calculating the opportunity cost. In most cases we never see what was lost, or if we do the opportunity is past!
Jesus Christ initiates His ministry by calling all His disciples to follow Him after first evaluating what it will cost to identify with Him.
“And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. 28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost.” – Luke 14:27-28a NLT
Generally speaking, we see only what we are looking for. If we’re looking for excuses, we will always find one. But the same is true for God ordained opportunities. If we look for them, we’ll find them all around us!
Three weeks ago, I prayed that I would lead someone to Christ. It seemed like it has been forever since I had this privilege. One week later the “opportunity,” arose and a young man prayed with me and asked Christ into his life. Right then and there he purposed to follow Christ!
If you make the most of an opportunity, it can turn into a God-moment and a defining moment for both you and those whom you impact with your words or actions. Even more than that, its an opportunity to Glory (reflect) the character of the Lord Jesus Christ!
King Solomon said, “There is a time for everything.”
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”– Ecclesiastes 3:1 NLT
Learning to recognize the season God has us in is essential. Otherwise we may grow frustrated trying to mend something when it is time to tear it up, (3:7). God may even have us in a time to hate, rather than love provided we love and hate the right things (Rom. 12:9; 1 John 4:20). There “is a time to be silent and a time to speak,” (3:7), and “a time to plant and a time to uproot” (3:2). I counted 28 contrasting times recorded in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8. I would say the stakes are pretty high when it comes to discerning what season we are in. Bad timing could be crippling and good timing could be biblically serendipitous. Simply put, we need to know what season we are in.
Stop for a moment and reflect about the season or time you are in and what you believe you ought to be doing.
Discerning the voice of God requires an internal clock that perceives His promptings. And it’s our reaction time to those promptings that leads to supernatural synchronicities: being in the right place at the right time with the right people.
A Divine Prompting
Allow me to go back to my college years to provide an example for you. It was the winter of 1967 while I was a college student at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. I was instructed to arrive in Portland to receive a military physical in case my draft number would be called. If called, I would be scripted into the military and most likely sent to serve in Vietnam.
I first visited my mother as I was extremely sick. To make matters worse, I had just gone through initiation for my fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. Because of the awful rite of passage, I developed a massive boil in my nose, and I had the flu on top of it. Before my physical, I visited with my mom. She was distraught to say the least. I left her crying and rushed on to my appointment. Driving away I got to the bottom of the hill where we lived, when the Holy Spirit asked me a question:
“Dale, are you going to leave your mom now? Go back to her!”
Okay, I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I knew what the Holy Spirit was saying. I could turn left to go downtown or I could turn right and circle back to see my mom. I turned right. I came into the house and there she sat, still crying. She asked what I was doing, and I said, “I came back to pray with you.”
You all, I was in college, leading people to Christ, praying with my fellow Christians… and yet I never had prayed out loud with my mom. What is wrong with that picture? As we joined hands in conversational prayer, my mom prayed and I thought the windows of heaven were opening. She poured out her heart in earnest and fervent intercessions for me like I’d never heard before! It was life changing for me!
I think listening to those promptings is part of what the prophet Isaiah promised:
“21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:21 NIV
A distinguishing mark that we are followers of the living God is when His presence is manifested in our timely encounters and promptings with others. The rather startling comments from Moses are very revealing.
“16 How will anyone know that you look favorably on me–on me and on your people–if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.” 17 The LORD replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you (because I am pleased with you NIV), and I know you by name.”– Exodus 33:16-17 NLT
Once Again Stand Back and Marvel at God’s Word!
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”– Romans 8:31 NIV
I have had countless “promptings” that I have responded to over the years, but it takes practice to listen, discern, respond to the nudges, thoughts, pokes or impressions. We learn best by doing, and throughout life the best way I have learned is to step out on what I think God is saying to me. We have to be willing to be course-corrected and redirected, but trial and error really are the best teachers. The writer of Hebrews provides a description of maturity found in Hebrews 5, where he exhorts his listeners to grasp and practice the teachings regarding righteousness. Look to verses 11-13 for the context.
“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”– Hebrews 5:14 ESV
The stirring of the Holy Spirit can be a feeling of restlessness. Sometimes it starts out as a God-ordained desire that becomes like a consuming fire deep within our being. Sometimes it’s an idea that hits critical mass. And sometimes God rocks the boat—or capsizes it. Sometimes it is like the Holy Spirit elbows us right in the ribs like He did directing me to go back to my mom! The Holy Spirit will use us to stop, to start, or to change.
Heeding a little prompting today can bring a huge net effect tomorrow for yourself, others, and for the reputation of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Take the Opportunity to Act
- In each article I write I attempt to support my thoughts with Scripture. Please take time to muse over some of the verses that I have referenced, looking at the context while asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you about the content.
- Even though it may be difficult… write down the loss of an opportunity you did not see or take advantage of. How will you choose to act differently the next time you have a “timely opportunity”?
- What season are you presently in? Looking over the 28 contrasting times of Ecclesiastes 3, which resonates with you most and why? Are there others outside the text that come to mind?
- Are there presently any “promptings” from God that you sense He wants you to act upon?
- Which part of this teaching article impacted you the most? Why?
Listening with You,