preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV)
Paul writes Timothy telling him (amongst other things) to, “be ready in season and out.” Obviously he wanted Timothy to be prepared for everything, but what does being ready in season look like? And how can one be prepared out of season?
Season is a period of time—spring, summer, fall, winter; for example. But it’s more than that when Paul addresses Timothy. As an example take two people in a relationship. When they spend time together (as on a date) there are moments when they are doing just that: going somewhere or doing something that occupies time. There are other occasions when the time spent together is ineffable: the two individuals connect, learn more about each other, and strengthen their relationship. To grow a relationship both of these moments are required. Simply spending time together is important. But the special moments are also important; those are the ones where the relationship grows exponentially. It’s difficult to plan the special moments, they sort of just happen. And while they sort of just happen, they absolutely do not happen if the couple does not simply spend time together. The Bible describes the special moments using the word (or a variation thereof) kairos. It’s the kairos moments that feel divinely orchestrated.
Back to Paul’s letter, he wants Timothy to be prepared for the kairos moments, but also for the moments that are akairos (not kairos). One could say that he wants Timothy to be prepared when the situation or circumstance is convenient, natural, and well orchestrated; as well as when it is not at all convenient, not natural, nor even remotely orchestrated.
In 1 Samuel 17 we read the narrative of David and Goliath. At 58 verses it’s somewhat lengthy but a good read. Many times this passage is referenced to focus on how young David was to accomplish something so great as to defeat the giant Goliath. But the story illustrates a kairos moment.
And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.”
1 Samuel 17:17-18 (ESV)
David’s father, Jesse, instructs David to take supplies to his brothers in Saul’s army who are confronting the Philistines (including Goliath). Apparently it was normal for family to supply the needs of their own in the army.
As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.
1 Samuel 17:23 (ESV)
This is the kairos moment. David hears Goliath and responds. It’s important to point out that while David took up Goliath’s challenge, the person who should have responded was Saul. This isn’t the kairos moment for David, it’s the kairos moment for Saul. For Saul, the moment was in season. As the king of Israel he had all he needed to respond to the challenge and rout Goliath.
When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.
1 Samuel 17:11 (ESV)
The same word translated, “dismayed,” is used in 1 Samuel 2:10 and is translated, “shall be broken to pieces.” Saul was not just afraid, he was paralyzed with fear—a broken man incapable of action. Contrast this with David who rightly saw the fight was not Goliath against himself, but rather against God.
For David the confrontation was very much out of season, yet he was prepared.
But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”
1 Samuel 17:34-36 (ESV)
Saul was neither prepared in season nor out of season. David was prepared for both. But the remarkable part of what transpired is that David never set out that day to smite Goliath. He set out to feed his brothers (ironically, in the army to fight Goliath). David was not going to battle and his hearing Goliath’s challenge could even be considered happenstance. David was doing the routine, mundane chores of life when something out of season happened.
When people accept Jesus and begin a journey of being a follower of Christ, they often ask what their function is, “What am I supposed to do?” It’s a difficult question to answer and even though God knows He doesn’t always make it readily apparent. But walking in faith is trusting that God has a plan and purpose and each of us, individually, has a unique function within it. Whether we recognize our function or not, we nonetheless each have one.
The truth is that we never know what events are going to transpire to lead us to a moment, in season or out. The chronicles of David illustrate for us that God doesn’t necessarily give us a schedule detailing a massive opportunity a few weeks or months away, but instead uses circumstances and situations in our day-to-day life to provide opportunities for us to show the world that God is real and active in the present day. Being ready in season and out of season isn’t about knowing a great moment is coming, it’s about recognizing that every moment has the potential to be a kairos moment and knowing that our (sometimes boring, sometimes mundane, sometimes challenging) journey of faith is what prepares us to step into any season.