The Insanity of Serving Chronos

The Greek god, Chronos (or Time), was depicted as a cruel devourer, ravaging the world by consuming all things (including his own children and fellow gods). You can call it whatever you want, but all of us fall into the trap of serving the god of Time, we fear it, we wish to control it, and we feel enslaved to it.

Sometimes I wake up feeling like Chronos is at my heels consuming moments and reminding me of lost time. My children have aged before my very eyes and I feel lost moments that I wasted with anxiety, impatience, or misguided priorities. I have had to say goodbye to beloved friends and family all over the world and I wish I could turn back the clock to see their sweet faces again. I have allowed guilt over my failures to lead me to reliving past mistakes and wish that I could do them over or erase them completely. I  feel eaten up as time flows too quickly, and I can hear Poe’s bells echoing,

keeping time, time, time.

They mock me as I sweep the floor for the fortieth time while I gaze longingly at my multiplying stack of unread books, my unfinished draft, or the myriad of other things that sound infinitely more appealing than sweeping the floor. Even still they ring as I try to tackle the stack of books, or the blank page in moments of quiet. They haunt me as I hash over past moments and perseverate over what I could have done differently, said better, or not said at all, whether I chose to use my time wisely, or if I squandered what I was given to steward. I struggle with the constant nagging feeling of my own inadequacy, am I wasting my time? If only I could go back to the moment after what I know now, could I have done it better? Will I regret how I’m spending my time today? Am I making the most of my time in view of eternity?

I feel guilty sitting, sleeping, cleaning, writing, reading…my foolish heart can twist just about anything into a moment wasted. I waste time wondering how I will ever make the most of the time that’s being eaten away even as I think.

And in the midst of this I read things from my God who says, “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy”, and “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” How can this possibly be? How can a day of ceasing work possibly be expected of me? How can I possibly rest?

I am prone to sacrifice this holy day on an alter to Chronos. I try to appease an insatiable myth, working to please a god in an effort to control my fate. I try to make lists and manage my time, I try to consume knowledge in an effort to always have the right answer, or to learn how not to have any answer at all, or in exhaustion seek out slothful relaxation. I find myself in a constant  pendulum swing of striving for approval or apathetic avoidance. And I’m dizzy from the chaos of it all.

Is it any wonder that my mind feels like a circus of anxiety, darkness, and confusion when I’m replacing the promises of the one true God, for the charade of a false one? I keep turning to Chronos, begging time to stop, or speed up, or go back, and I sacrifice my peace and sanity, again and again. It may not be a bloody sacrifice but it is no less gruesome.

But Chronos is not truly my god, the God I belong to is not a myth. Time looks mercifully different with him.

Despite how we like to think our time in this fallen dimension, chronos, measures quantity so precisely, it is God’s perfect time, or kairos, that is about quality.
-Carolyn Weber, Holy is the Day

Time, after all, is his creation too. It should come as no surprise that we cannot use it rightly apart from him. I find myself drowning in my own ambition–or alternatively, exhaustion–because I keep trying to serve a myth, imagining my deeds will earn me meaningful moments. But it is only when I surrender my time to the One who created it that I find meaning, quality, forgiveness, and yes, even rest. Time is transformed simply because he transforms me.

This is the promise he gives us, and the Sabbath is a mere glimpse of the final rest that we one day get to enjoy in his presence forever. This is why the Sabbath is a gift, it reminds us that time is not ours, nor is it wielded by a god of cruelty; it reminds us that we are given rest in a God who works for us and in us, who is sovereign over all things–including our past, present, and future.

When we remember this promise we can stop striving and instead lean into the One who promised, “my yoke is easy, my burden is light.” This doesn’t promise relaxation, laziness, or a lack of effort, for with God there is a burden, there is a yoke–Christians are called to holiness, sacrifice, and an eternal vision that must constantly be at the forefront of our minds–but it does promise that these commands will not overwhelm or crush us. They are easy and light not because He asks little of us, but because we do them with Him. The impossible: pursuing holiness and making the most of our time–becomes possible because we are resting in the One who has already done the impossible: defeating death and sin, and rescuing those who would otherwise be damned.

If we can just remember this then we can find true freedom, then we can taste true rest. The moments of time that once felt lost are not so, the guilt over failure can be transformed to repentance and we can taste mercy, the to-do list is no longer a source of anxiety, and the unexpected hiccups that slow us down are not a curse or excuse for impatience, and most beautiful of all we find His presence in each moment, we see him even as we sweep the floor, accumulate knowledge, or engage in conversation. Time is changed, moments touch eternity, and our schedule is no longer sacred to us. We can work hard and serve fervently, not to earn favor or control, but in service to our God. We can rest on the day he has given us, a time that is restful because it draws us back to him. We can remember the Sabbath even with so much unfinished, because we have to. We have to remember that the work of our hands does not matter if our heart is not with him.

As Elisabeth Elliot wrote,

There is always enough time to do the will of God.

And the will of God encompasses our whole lives, in our waking and sleeping moments, we are his. Time is his. What a relief. Our God is not Chronos, he does not devour and destroy us, he restores, renews, and sanctifies us.

So I relinquish the chaos of my mind.

Instead of sacrificing my peace and sanity to Chronos (or whatever name you prefer), I can find myself leaning into the arms that once were outstretched in agony holding a world of sin; I can fall at the feet that have gaping holes for my sake; I can rest in the hands that bled to restore me. I remember who my God is on the Sabbath, I am reminded of what he has done, and I worship him gladly for it; and that is time well spent.

 

 

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