The concept of time fascinates me. I’m certainly no physicist, although I am a fan of Sheldon Cooper. Time as we understand it in the sense of being a phenomenon of earth and earthlings is a mystery. It makes me think of eternity and how the timeless interacts with the temporal. (What, for instance, is really happening when people see apparitions?) It leads me to wonder about the continuum of history, present, and future and what that means to the God of creation. I wish I could see even for a moment how our lives must look from His perspective. Eternity is mind-boggling. Yet, it is something to which we who were created in the image of God are connected.
Lately, I have found myself stuck in thoughts about the past and concerns about the future. In the process of grieving a very significant loss in my own life, I have temporarily lost the ability to be fully present. In my grieving, I have found myself tending to distort the past. My memories are very selective, but powerful enough to bring a sense of what was “real.” The disconnection between what was “real” and what is true now brings even more anxiety about the future. It is a terribly disjointed sense of time and eternity. Fortunately, God – Who is present now and Who was present then and Who will be present in all future – calls to my attention that my current perspective is neither accurate nor helpful.
I’ve never been one to wish to know the future. Actually, I believe if we knew what was in our future, we would likely be paralyzed by a fear of the challenges we would see. Surely that’s why Jesus said “Don’t be afraid” so often. When we encounter God, we are encountering eternity, which inevitably brings with it some knowledge of the future as well as a clear vision of the past and present.
The most exciting and only real thing we have is right now. It’s the only place we as humans can operate. In our “right now,” God calls us to be His representatives in the world. (I feel some preaching coming on, yes, but mostly to myself.) In our “right now,” God tells us not to fear, but to love Him and love our neighbors and love ourselves. God calls us into future work by speaking to us right now.
In this frame of mind, I am keenly aware of the present. In this frame of mind, I am listening and looking for what God is saying and showing. In this frame of mind, I see my story – the one that was, that is, and that is yet to be known – as part of a larger story that God authors. And it is in this frame of mind, that I begin to find a real sense of peace, right now.