“I have so much more for you than the work.”
It came from the depths of my spirit last night, budding off of a conversation on identity and insecurity and how writing settles itself unkindly between those two things sometimes. But we instantly recognized it as from Him, me and my fellow writer-friend, Elizabeth. I said it again, recounting each syllable with its own breath as a new, deeper word. “I have so much more for you than the work.”
“I need to write that down.” I said.
“Yeah, you do.” She echoed in affirmation. “It’s a good word.”
I started typing it into a sticky note on my desktop. I stared at it for a few seconds, my blinking eyes of disbelief at the God who speaks– silently saying an awed “thank you.”
And today I stare at Greek nouns and prepositions and the mingling of the two, and those same eyes fill up with tears.
“Not looking to the things seen, but the unseen things… for the things that are seen are proskaira, but the things that are unseen are aionia.”
–2 Corinthians 4.18
Proskairos—typically translated as “temporary” or “transient”. Also recorded as “for a season.” I had written down “before season”, thinking of the preposition, which is the prefix of this word, pro not pros.
The word has two parts: pros and kairos.
Pros– (a preposition) means “toward or with,” and denotes movement, “motion towards”, or an “interface” with—suggesting “a cycle of initiation and response.”
Kairos (a noun) is my favorite word in Greek, hands down. It means “season”, “opportunity”, “a suitable time”, “a favorable moment”, “a fitting season”. It is the second word for time that greek has, the first being chronos, which is where we get chronology—the tick-tick-tick of time. Kairos is more fluid. It is a set, designated time, but one without rigid boundaries or designations, exactly like how seasons change.
To put these two words together, which only Paul did in the Bible, in this one passage, is a striking picture.
At house fellowship this morning, our leader mentioned the extreme view that people can take on this verse—“Oh, we should discount everything that we see, because it’s not eternal.” But, this word obviously discounts that picture, because it isn’t taking away the value of the things that are seen, but rather giving them a limit, and calling us to see them beside the far greater value of the eternal things that we are looking to (“beholding” as 3.18 says) not seen by our eyes but by faith.
These things that we see are indeed worth their season. They have inherent value, especially as we must interact with them. They have a season, but they are not the ultimate season we are looking toward (which chapter 5 deals with). They are propelling us towards the eternal things, that’s why we over-look them, not ignoring them, but letting them lift our eyes.
It’s like what another brother at house fellowship said: Without death, the resurrection life could not be fully known. Without being perplexed, we would never recognize that we are nowhere near despair thanks to His grace. Without feeling the crushing burdens, we would not recognize how He upholds us. Without being struck down, we would not recognize the weight of His protection. Without feeling persecuted, we would not recognize His ever-constant presence with us.
So, let us see the seasons that the things we see move us through, as our focus zooms out to the weightier realities: the eternal things that we see by faith. As our hearts are set on the things above, not below.
How do we zoom out? How do we let the things we see and feel lift up our eyes?
I think about what I’m seeing in this season:
I can tangibly see these things.
I see the need and the people—I’m surrounded by people who need JC. I see the darkness—a covering that falls not with the setting sun, but by temples that ooze darkness from their burning candles and incense. I see the work—the conversations I need to have, with people who have never heard His name–to hear, and with those who have–to go deeper. I see my role—to have those conversations. I see the words—clicking across this screen, stuttering out of my mouth, whispering on this balcony, singing all over this place. I see the language—as I stare at my notebooks, grammar book, and flashcards, longing for it to fill my mind and my mouth, but even more so, my heart.
And I see the steps—walking through my neighborhood, moving along the streets and mores to catch autos and rickshaws from place to place, snaking through the markets, standing in my favorite little grocer on my street, where conversations can happen. Where love can be shared over laughter. Chai. Smiles. Eye-contact.
I do not yet see the specifics of how to act upon these things that I see. I feel crippled by the unseen realities of my identity and how God desires to use me. Insecurity is like acid splashing into my eyes—burning and keeping them downcast, seeing nothing beyond what is here in this season. Definitely keeping them from seeing how these things, these seen things, are prokairos–moving me towards a goal, propelling me towards His eternal realities that make the temporary things matter. These things I see are indeed worth their season.
But the word spoken softly last night returns, louder this time—
I have more for you than the work.
One of those seen things.
I have more for you than the need.
I have more for you than the people.
I have more for you than the darkness.
I have more for you than the role.
I have more for you than the words.
I have more for you than the language.
I have more for you than the steps.
“More, more, more,” He says.
What is this “more”? In Hindi, a more is an intersection, a traffic circle, an exchange: a place of many directions and turns to choose from. A place of really bad traffic. Where stoplights are seen, but otherwise ignored. This “more” that He is speaking, singing over me, cannot be ignored.
The “more” is the unseen. The things that are unseen are aionia—eternal. Having lasting value. The things that are without end, never to cease. The things that have eternal quality and weight. The things that we must have faith to behold.
I will not see every need met or reach every person, though I will strive to. I will not vanquish the darkness, though I will shine in it. I will find a role here, a space to grow in and use my gifts, a place of fulfillment, but it will not fulfill me. I will speak and write the words, I will learn the language, but my words, in any language or form, will not stand forever. I will walk many steps over the next two years, in many different places, and my feet will be beautiful with the good news and shod with its peace, but my steps will eventually take me away from this place.
In each of these seen things, there will be more.
God will meet deeper needs than I could ever perceive. He loves these people infinitely more than I ever could. His light will ultimately outshine the darkness, until we need no more light but that of His presence. He will use my role as but a cameo in His eternal design. He will give words and speak life through my passing-away voice, as His Spirit desires, but His word will remain forever. As I will learn a trade language, He knows every heart language and will speak in them, to draw people to Himself. As I walk each step, He is stepping before me, preparing each one for His purpose.
This eternal, resounding more releases me to look up. From the work, the need, the people, the darkness, the role, the words, the language, and the steps—to behold Him who holds all things in times and things, yet is without season or time in and of Himself. Nor is He “slow in fulfilling His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward all, not desiring that any should perish, but that all come to repentance.” We can trust His more. Let’s look for the more.