Time and Eternity

God dwells in eternity. God is eternal. And that is an interesting truth to come to terms with. Eternity is something that we, as finite beings, find hard to grasp.

Eternity is not just unending time, but existence outside of time itself.

Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8) and God calls Himself by the unique title “I Am” (Exodus 3:14), meaning the one who is always in the present.

The Time-Space Continuum

Our existence is trapped in the bounds of time and space. We occupy a certain space at a certain time, but at a later time we have moved to a different space. We can measure time by changes in space and we can measure changes in space by use of time.

We are trapped in one place at a time. And we are trapped in the present moment. We cannot go back in time and we cannot go forward in time, except as time progresses as its own fixed rate.

We cannot move to another place without using up some time.

All of this is what is referred to as the ‘time-space continuum’, which is our natural, temporal reality.

Outside of Time

God lives outside of measured time. We cannot go back to yesterday but God is already there! God is every place at the same time and every time at the same time. He is the eternal “now”! He is permanently in the ‘present tense’. That is why He could call Himself “I Am”. God is not, “I Was”, or “I will be”, but He is the “I Am” of every moment – present, past and future.

This accounts for God’s ‘foreknowledge’ (knowing things in advance), as described in such verses as Acts 2:23, 1Peter 1:2, and Romans 8:29.

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29

God did not assign people a destiny in hell simply by a random process, but He knew in advance those who would reject Him and those who would believe. So, according to His foreknowledge He then assigned people their destiny.

What is Time?

Before the world began there was no time. God created time at the creation of the universe.

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Genesis 1:3-5

“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” Genesis 1:14

There will also come a time when ‘time’ will end. It will exist no longer.

“And swore by him that lives for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that are therein, and the earth, and the things that are therein, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that time should exist no longer” Revelation 10:6

Time is understood differently depending on where you are looking from. For us, as temporal, finite creations, time is a slavery which we are trapped in.

God, however, sees time quite differently. We are wise to look at time from God’s perspective, rather than our own. Our ideas will limit us, while God’s ideas will expand us and set us free.

Opportunity

Man sees time differently to God. To man time is the passing of hours, or measured time. To God time is a season of “opportunity”.

Man lives under the delusion that time is something like a possession or an asset in his hands. “Use your time wisely”, we say. We think, “My time is my own, so I’ll do what I want with it”. “It’s your time, Ralph, so make up your own mind what you will do with it.”

But time does not belong to us. Instead, time belongs to God. He Created It!

And what did God create? God created “seasons of opportunity”.

Seasons

‘Seasons’ is a significant subject in the Bible, beyond just the agricultural impact and fashion trends of changing seasons during the year.

Genesis 8:22 tells us that seasons will never cease while the earth remains.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22

In the 1980’s I heard Millionaire Maker, James Rohn, advises top notch executives that “What will be is what has always been. Winter followed by spring, etc.” In the cold of Winter be assured Spring is coming!

Rohn was simply stating what the Bible documented thousands of years ago.

Another famous Bible passage about seasons was popularized by Peter, Paul and Mary in their song, “Turn, Turn, Turn”. The song quotes King Solomon’s insight from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, that there is a time (or season) for everything.

Various Seasons

The Bible speaks of past seasons, the last days, fullness of time and appointed time. There is a time of trouble, harvest, visitation, evil, love, latter rain, and much more.

Hosea 10:12 says “it is time to seek the Lord”.

It is vain to imagine ourselves independent of God’s seasons. We must see and respond to the time which God has set for us, and for the world.

Jesus rebuked the people of His day who could determine the natural season, but could not see the spiritual one (Luke 12:56). In the Old Testament the children of Issachar were acknowledged for their understanding of the times and seasons of the Lord.

“And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.” 1Chronicles 12:32

Know Your Season

We must recognise the season that God has set for us at this time.

We must then pay whatever price is required for us to get the fullest out of that season. This is called “redeeming the time”, which means to “exploit the season”.

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” Colossians 4:5

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16

Today’s Season

What season are we in today? We are in the ‘Age of Grace’. Now is the time of salvation.

The Bible calls this an “accepted time” and a “day of salvation”.

“behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2Corinthians 6:2

There will come a day when God will close this door of opportunity. This is the season for getting right with God. Remember that “it is appointed unto me once to die, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Death is End of Choice

Someone once defined death as the “cessation of all change”. You cannot change your mind once you are dead. Your season of opportunity has come to an end. Death is the closing of the door of opportunity for you.

Eternity is far more important that the minutes of our day. God has given us a lifespan of time as a door of opportunity for us to walk into eternity. If we don’t take the opportunity God has given us then it doesn’t matter what else we do with the time.

Your Time Has Come

Your time has come. Your opportunity is “now”! Walk into eternity while there is “time” – while there is opportunity.

Once you have done that, tune into God’s current Season for your life, and exploit the opportunity that is uniquely yours.

Today

Having recently written about ‘Yesterday’ my thoughts jogged along to ‘Today’ and I thought I would try to wax poetic about this thing we call today. I don’t think I’m going to win an award for what is contained here, but I’m sharing it as a way of recording my jottings.

I woke and it was today. Wow! How fast it came.
Only yesterday this day was far away.
And I don’t think I’m ready yet for today.
Could I have a few more days to prepare?
I think I was distracted and didn’t realise how time was passing.

Can we just put it off one more day?
Oh.
So, it’s today.
And I’m ill prepared.
Hmmm.

Well I guess I can have a shot at it, but it won’t be very good.
I should have prepared.
I was going to study and do some reading.
And I thought I’d understand more by now.
But I guess that’s not how it works.

Just give me a minute to see if I can find something to help.
Where are those notes I scribbled long ago?
I can’t find them.
And I don’t remember what they said.
Are you sure we can’t do this tomorrow instead?

Cruel is the fate that catches us off-guard.
Unrelenting time has made this moment hard.
How dare it treat me so?
It seemed to go so slow.
But now I’m caught in moments locked and barred.

Today is oh so cruel to catch me unprepared.
It makes me feel the fool and not a little scared.
It leaves me out of step
With hardly time to prep.
It shows me up as one who hasn’t cared.

Others I can see have met this day full force.
Just how can it be that they have kept that course?
How did they do so well?
I wish that I could tell.
For as for me I’m like a limping horse.

While others dash ahead and run about quite free
My feet are made of lead and stumble under me.
Today has bogged me down
And made me look the clown
While others as I’ve said, get the jump on me.

Tomorrow’s on its way and so I make my choice
To pick a course and stay on track with mind and voice.
So when tomorrow comes
I’ll beat the welcome drums
And have it on a tray as I rejoice.

Yesterday is Gone

The Beatles made a huge hit singing “Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away”. And others waxed poetic about how “Yesterday’s gone” and how they remember “Yesterday when I was young” and so on.

Yesterday’s Hold

The reason “yesterday” has such a hold on people’s lives is that we all carry the past into the present and beyond that into the future. Yesterday is the time we sowed certain things into our lives and today we reap the harvest. So yesterday is a powerful component of ‘today’ and it will still be making its presence felt when we get to tomorrow.

The Catholic Church teaches people to go to confession to deal with the sins of yesterday. Someone sneered at the habit of some who sin during the week and look for forgiveness in the confessional on the weekend. They said it was like sowing wild oats all week and then praying for a crop failure.

The Hindu faith respects the baggage of yesterday as karma, which we carry not only through this life, but into future lives which Hindus believe they will face. Gautama Buddha, who rejected the Hindu teaching of reincarnation, went so far as to say that we cannot remove our Karma even in a thousand lifetimes.

Yesterday’s Debris

Here are just a few of the things we bring with from yesterday, even though yesterday is gone.

We bring our disappointments from yesterday. We face disappointments with others, such as our parents and family. But we also face disappointments with ourselves.

We bring our broken relationships from yesterday. Once we have offended someone else or they have offended us that damage remains, often throughout life. Family reunions and community life become tinged with the hurt and offence that we feel toward others and they feel toward us.

We bring our compromises from yesterday. Once we have compromised our values and character that becomes a weak spot for us from that time on.

We bring our slaveries from yesterday. When we give in to sin, such as anger, pride, jealousy or lust, that thing enslaves us and it controls us throughout our lives.

Today’s Harvest

It is also true, as the Bible teaches, that our actions and choices involve us sowing seeds in our lives. A seed not only remains, but it germinates and produces a whole crop. So when we sow something into our life, we are setting up a harvest in the future.

Today’s harvest is filled with the fruit of the things we planted yesterday. If we planted selfishness, pride, anger, greed, violence, self-pity, wilfulness, addiction, lies or other evil things, we will have an evil harvest today.

If we planted forgiveness, faith, love, trust, humility and the fear of God then we will have a much better harvest today than others might have.

Yesterday is not ‘Gone’

While the songs might say, “yesterday’s gone” it isn’t true. Yesterday has passed, but it has not ‘gone’. Yesterday lives with you today.

Just as yesterday’s piano lessons undergird today’s musicianship and yesterday’s studies undergird today’s understanding, yesterday’s moral choices undergird today’s character.

Transforming Yesterday

“You can’t go back in time” is one way to look at it. “What’s done is done!” might be your way of dismissing the past. But there are powerful ways of unlocking the past and transforming yesterday. Let me briefly outline two of them.

Confession of Sin is a powerful way to unlock and transform yesterday. When you repent of the choices you made in the past God is able to set you free from the debris and consequences of those choices in the present. You can actually get a crop failure, even though you sowed lots of wild oats.

God can go back in time. While you are stuck in the time-space continuum, God exists outside of time. So He is able to go back to your past and make Himself present, bringing healing to things that are part of your yesterday that has ‘gone’ from you.

A Testimony

A friend of mine named Malcolm visited a lady who had chronic problems. When he prayed for her she had a vision of a baby crying in a cot. She realised that she was seeing herself as a tiny baby. She sensed the extreme distress of the baby and it connected with the pain that kept surfacing in her life.

A spirit of intercession came on Mal and he began to weep for her. As he did she saw in her vision that the door to the baby’s room opened and Jesus walked in. Jesus lifted the baby into His arms and as He did the woman felt all her pain and torment drain from her life.

It was as if Jesus was able to go back in time to the entry point of the woman’s troubles and resolve them, even though that was now many years past.

Saying Good-bye to Yesterday

If yesterday has brought its bad baggage with it into your today then be encouraged to say “Good-bye” to that stuff. You can remove it forever by confession and by asking the Lord to unlock and heal your past.

The Steps to Release, which I have written about in my books and in other posts, will be helpful in this process.

I want you to live in the freedom with which Christ has made you free. I want you to be able to say, in all reality, that Yesterday is Gone! Keep all that is good from yesterday and unlock and remove all that is bad. Once you’ve said “Good-bye” to yesterday’s rubbish you will have an even better future to look forward to.

The Tyranny of Time

I have had the privilege of learning about time management from some well respected exponents on the subject. Yet my own time management has never been exemplary. Consciousness of time and tasks can become burdensome reality to many. So time management is a pretty important issue in our lives, especially for those who wish to be high achievers and who need to squeeze all they can out of their available time.

A Time Management Question

Here’s a time management question for you, to help you reflect on some of the philosophical issues of harnessing available time.

“There is never enough time to get everything done, so what are you going to do?”

Now, before you launch off with off-the-cuff answers, let me refine the question a little for you. Let’s image a scenario in which to address this question. Let’s imagine a situation where a person does not have a boss. Maybe they are running their own business, or just managing their life without having to be told what to do, such as a salesman might do.

The point of removing the boss is to have a situation where the person must make their own decisions about time management. If a person is overloaded with work given them by a boss they can always revert to the boss and let the boss solve the problem. I am creating a scenario that does not have that option.

The Scenario

So, we are considering a person trying to achieve various things, but with never enough time to get everything done. Let’s assume that by the end of each day there is at least one more task on the list than there had at the beginning of the day. This just goes on each day, ad infinitum. There is just not enough time to get everything done.

Now, if you were in that situation what would you do?

The Options

One possibility is that you could kill yourself trying to catch up. Since there is never enough time to get everything done (as is my starting premise), there is the option of becoming totally buried and burdened by the tasks. You could, for instance, just spend every waking moment chasing the list of things to do, pushing through them like a galley slave rowing across the ocean.

Some people chose this option. They become a pawn to their workload, ever struggling upstream against it. The work eats up their life and their time and their energy and just about everything else.

Is that how you face your workload?

Alternatively you could just give up. You could realise that the task is undo-able and just not bother trying to do it. “Why bother?” No matter how hard you try you can’t tame the demands, so you will have to leave many things undone. If you have to leave anything undone, then why should you have to do anything at all? Why not leave it ALL undone?

Some people lean toward this option. These are the minimalists. They do as little as they can get away with, because they have lost all heart for the tasks. They feel defeated by the challenge and just can’t face pressing on at all.

Two Extremes

Those two extreme positions stand in contrast to each other. Yet they summarise the limits of our choices. Your approach to the things you have to accomplish will be somewhere between complete slavery to the tasks and complete abandonment.

Some of you are workaholics, completely enslaved to the “To Do” lists in your life. For some that is the secret to their success. For others it is the treadmill that will consume their lives.

Others are work-refusers. They avoid tasks like they avoid leprosy. What they have to do they do as quickly and casually as they can. If they can get out of a task they will go out of their way to do it.

Time is Not the Issue

In either of the extremes which I have drawn out of the simple scenario the issue is not a matter of time-management. The issue is that of heart attitude. It is a character issue.

We are not measured by what we achieve or how clever we are at managing the time allotted to us. We are measured by the “who” that we become along the way.

If you become a slave and elevate tasks above the rest of your life, then that is the “who” that you have become. If you become slack and defeated, then that is the “who” that you have become.

The first issue, then, is not how to do more work, or how to get more things done. It is not a matter of priorities, routine, best practice or time and motion studies. The issue is “Who are you?”

What kind of person are you? Do you know diligence? Do you have a faithful spirit? Do you make wise choices? Are you compulsive? Do you let work or other people’s demands rule your life? Have you given up on things? Just how much have you given up on?

Become a Better You

As you become a better you, by developing godly character, doing things as if for God and not for yourself, you will be better able to manage the issues of your life.

Your workload is an issue of your life. It is not your life. Your time is an issue of your life. It is not your life.

Your character IS your life. WHO you are is what your life is all about. You will face eternal consequences for who you are, not for the way you managed time or processed work.

My advice? Become a better you. Call on God’s grace to transform you and your attitudes and character, until the tasks and choices that confront you are met by someone with godly wisdom and divine grace.

The Importance of Timing

There is a time for everything. So says Solomon in his supreme wisdom. Yet timing is a lost art for most people, especially in our opportunistic culture today. So, do you understand “times”? There’s a lot in the subject of time and timing. So this is just an introduction to the topic. You will remember that end time prophecies refer to such things as “time, times and half a time” (Daniel 12:7, Revelation 12:14).

Jesus knew the times and said of himself, “my time has not yet come” (John 7:6,8).

Members of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, Issachar, were noted for their ability to understand the times, thus knowing what Israel should do in various situations (1Chronicles 12:32). Knowing the significance of times and seasons enables people to make the right choice at the right time.

King Solomon gave us a poetic celebration of the reality of times and seasons.

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The most sobering reflection on ‘time’ comes out of the life of Elisha, the powerful prophet of Israel, approx 850 years before Christ. After this man of God healed the Syrian leper, Naaman, he declined to accept the lavish and valuable gifts offered him by the grateful military captain. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, however, had no qualms about getting a share of the goods and so he secretly went to Naaman and asked for some of the booty, which Naaman happily gave him. When Gehazi returned to his post Elisha challenged him, since the prophet knew by divine revelation what Gehazi had done.

Significant in Elisha’s challenge to Gehazi is the issue of ‘timing’.

“And Elisha said to him, Didn’t my heart go with you when the man (Naaman) turned from his chariot to meet you? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and olive-yards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?” 2Kings 5:26

Elisha knew something about timing that Gehazi did not know. It was not the right time to get wealth. Gehazi’s problem was not greed, nor deception, but ignorance of the time in which he was living.

Now, considering how vital timing is in such a case, how well are we acquainted with timing and seasons in our lives? I suspect that most of us think opportunity is all that is required. If there is an opportunity to get something then the opportunity speaks for itself. Many people end up in some kind of curse, just as Gehazi did, when they act without regard for the times and seasons.

I suggest we all need to be much more prayerful and sensitive to times and seasons. We need to seek God for insight and revelation about how times and seasons impact our lives. Let’s do that and stay in step with what God is doing in us and our community, and the world at large.