Time and Eternity: God’s Endless “Now”

SO I’M WRITING A STORY…and at some point my main character hears a knock at the door. I write, “Daniel heard three sharp raps on the door, rose from the sofa, and crossed the room to reach for the knob.”

Then I leave my computer, get in my car and go shopping. Later, I get involved in an urgent work project. It’s days before I pick up the story again and write, “Daniel opened the door, and there stood…”

You see, as I’m writing, I’m “outside” the time world of my characters. In their artificial world, time is linear—one moment follows another. I’m not bound by their timeline. Not only that, but for the world I’ve imagined for them, I know everything that has ever happened to them—and everything that ever will. To me, their past is now. So is their future.

Admittedly, this is a limited and imperfect analogy of how God, who inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15) relates to those of us here on Earth, who inhabit time. And slightly adapted, my opening illustration above is purloined from the great Christian author C.S. Lewis, who wrote a chapter called “Time and Beyond Time” in his book Mere Christianity.

When I first read that chapter in my college days, I was profoundly challenged by trying to stretch my mind to understand at least dimly, the eternity of God. Here’s just one mind-expanding (if not mind-blowing) concept Lewis presented: “Suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call ‘tomorrow’ is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call ‘today.’ All the days are ‘Now’ for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday, He simply sees you doing them: because, though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow, He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him.”

There’s a reason Jesus called Himself by the title “I AM.” He did not say, “I was and am.” He did not say, “I am and will be.” Just, “I AM.” God is not moving through time, leaving behind a past and moving into the future. God inhabits eternity, from which He can see the infinite past and the infinite future just as clearly and immediately as our “present.” Everything is “now” to Him from His viewpoint of eternity.

The implications of this for how God relates to us are profound. Wrote Lewis again: “God is not hurried along in the Time-stream of this universe any more than an author is hurried along in the imaginary time of his own novel. He has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only [one] in the world.”

Just as I try sometimes to grasp the vastness of distances in the universe, I am nearly staggered by trying to grasp God’s eternity. I know I can only see shadows of it with my limited mind here on Earth. But someday I hope to explore it with Him in person. Even as I anticipate that encounter, He already knows whether it is to be—and if it is, it’s already in His “now.”

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by sharon mary on June 25, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    AWESOME mind adventure! Wonderful take on this mental challenge – this wonder we see through the glass darkly. Thank you! I was blessed by this short read.

    One point on which I differ with you…

    Your encounter with God IS to be – it’s not an “if”. You accept Him. You acknowledge Him as your Saviour. You believe in Him. Therefore, that encounter most assuredly IS in His “now”.

    I love Him for and am humbled by the fact that I – even I – am in His “now” and forever will be!

    Reply

  2. Posted by D Zane on October 26, 2007 at 9:25 am

    As I was browsing the Internet one day, I came upon the CNN request to comment upon their series of presentations of “God’s Warriors” in regards to the question of “faith” and what it meant to me as an individual. My response to them was as follows:

    I too searched the world over for the meaning of life, and whether eternity existed beyond. Then one day I saw in a vision a long hall way called LIFE with many doors along the way and one final door at the end. Somewhere near the beginning of the hall there was a door with these directions.
    TAKE::
    NO THOUGHT
    NO THING
    NO ONE
    And enter in.
    I passed it by, but as I neared the end of the hall I saw on the final door.
    GRAVE::
    NO THOUGHT
    NO THING
    NO ONE
    may pass this point with you.
    I decided to go back to that earlier door and with a supreme act of “faith” enter in, “believing” that there would be a handle on the other side. Strangely, it wasn’t a door after all, it was in the form of a cross, and it wasn’t an object, it was a portal between two worlds, time and eternity. Only later did I notice previously invisible inscriptions on each side of the door.
    The one on the inside said “In Christ”.
    The one on the outside said “Christ in You”.

    Reply

  3. Not sure I understand everything you’ve written here, D. Zane, but there are some good thoughts here that I do see clearly. I particularly believe in the twin concepts of “You in Christ” and “Christ in you.” The former is my only hope of salvation; the latter my only hope of becoming more like Jesus.

    Reply

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