Timing is everything
by Rev. Dr. Noriel C. Capulong
Delivered during the Board of Trustees Devotion on March 18, 2017 at the University Board Room

Scripture Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Good afternoon, honorable members of the BOT. Our text today from the book of Ecclesiastes leads us to reflect well on the value and meaning of time and having a sense of timing. You have probably heard the phrase “Timing is Everything”, and there could be a great deal of truth in this statement.  You don’t put out your Christmas decorations during summer, nor would you wear your thick jackets during this hot season. That is certainly wrong timing if not stupid. You don’t make a joke on a person who is obviously in a very bad mood. That could be a fatal mistake. Investors especially in the stock market are always on the lookout for the right timing to invest. In the world of business and institutions, you don’t ask for a raise when business is not really going well or when conditions for the future seem to be quite uncertain.

Like those of us who are on maintenance medication, I have to observe the time when I have to take a certain type of medicine otherwise, the effectiveness will be affected. If I have not been persuaded to go to the hospital as soon as possible when I had a bout of diarrhea a few days ago I could have lost my 10 year old transplanted kidney due to worsening dehydration. I was saved and my kidney was saved in time. Timeliness is something we need to discern and observe well if we are to derive greater sense, meaning and fulfillment in this life.

Timeliness or having the sense of right timing is so important in practically every aspect of our life. Timeliness, as far as our text in Ecclesiastes is concerned, is not about having knowledge of chronological time, from the Greek word Kronos, being simply calendar time, or marking the days, the hour, the months and the years as they move on. It’s the other Greek word for time we are concerned about here, it is Kairos.

Kairos is not about being the reckoning of days, months and years. It is having the sensitivity to discern the deeper meaning of certain special moments in the life of people and of the community, and the appropriateness of our response to them, like wedding days, birthdays, graduation days. Here, people are more concerned with relishing, savoring the moment, even wanting the chronological clock to stop and freeze the moment. The moment simply becomes eternal, an eternal now.  Today and tomorrow are Kairos moments for our graduating students and their parents. These are moments they would never miss for anything else. Indeed, there is a time to study and there is also a time to graduate from one’s study program.

Our text is actually teaching us 3 lessons. First, is for us to be aware and sensitive of the timeliness of the moments we are going through and the actions we do in such moments, on whether they are appropriate enough or simply ill timed or just bad timing, on what are the things most appropriate for us to do at this time as highest policy making body of this institution? What is the appropriate thing for us to do in a time like this? Certainly this is a time for crucial decision making, decisions that could be very timely and appropriate for this moment in the history of the university.

Second, is the limitedness, or the very short time being given to each one of us to act according to what is timely or appropriate in the days of our life. Yes, there is a time for us to be born but there is also already a time set for us to die. As the day of our birth is already fixed, so is the day when we will breathe our last. Between birth and death there is very limited and too short a time.

Today, you only have a very short but crucial moment to meet and make important decisions. This, itself can be a Kairos moments in our life, the time when we became so oblivious of the clock and become so absorbed in the spirit of urgency and criticalness of what we are engaged in. This can actually be a profoundly moving and life transforming moment even for the university. Kairos moments are actually the ones that usher us into the spiritual dimension of our life experiences. These are moments when we experience a truly moving and intimate encounter with God, moments when it began to dawn upon us the meaning of Jesus coming to us as the word that became flesh and dwelt among us as an ordinary man.

Lastly, the text is also reminding us of one abiding truth, because there is an appointed time for everything and for every season, there is also affirmed the one who appoints. It affirms this one basic truth, all events, all seasons in time are all in the hands of God. God is the one still in control. We may think that because of rising challenges in these times, (union unrest, Exodus group coming back to assert their land claims again,  in the midst of K-12, free college tuition in SUCs and expected much lower enrollment and therefore much lower income for next school year) things may just go from bad to worse. But God is the one that appoints what is appropriate for each time and for each season. He remains as the one in full control of all events taking place in time. We just have to discern well and be sensitive to the movement of the spirit that leads us to what is really timely and appropriate for us to do.

Executives, decision makers usually are more governed and influenced by and more sensitive to Kronos time, the clock, the calendar, the planner, even the cell phone. We need however to combine this well with a keen sensitivity to Kairos time, the timeliness of the moment, and of the season and of the days we are in. This is what would bring us back to that dimension of spirituality, the sense of having an encounter with and then being guided and led by a sovereign, all powerful but gracious God who is the ultimate Lord and ruler of our lives and who is the one continuously in perfect control of everything in our life, in our society and in our institution. May the good Lord always grant you the wisdom and the power of discernment for you to determine well what time is it that we are in right now and what appropriate action and decision do we need to undertake as a timely response which we hope to do in faith and in full trust in the Lord our God. Amen.