Saturday, March 4, 2017

BEYOND TIME--by Linden Malki

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." This is one of the most profound statements in Scripture--or anywhere else.  Noted physicist (and atheist) Steven Hawking once said "You can’t get to a time before the big bang, because there was no time before the big bang. We have finally found something that does not have a cause because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me this means there is no possibility of a creator because there is no time for a creator to have existed."  He has missed the whole point!  God existed before Time, and He created Time.  Moses, who had truly talked with the Creator, said it like this: "Before the mountains were begotten, and the earth and the world were brought forth, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn man back into dust, saying, 'Return, O children of men.'  For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday now that it is passed, or as a watch of the night." [Psalm 90:2-4]  Moses realized that God was eternally outside of Time.

We are  obsessed with Time; our whole lives are organized around time. We celebrate milestones of the passage of time; we make sense of the world by referencing time. One of the most powerful tools for understanding not only history but its effect on our world is the "timeline."  I had a seventh-grade teacher who put up a ribbon with places to insert markers around the classroom, and we added markers as we studied history and other subjects that had a relationship to history. By the end of the year, we were expected to be able to walk around the room and identify each marker and its importance. My best friend and I asked if we could made a dialog out of it,and the teacher gave us additional references to add as appropriate. We did a 2-girl hour-long comedy sketch of the history of the world for most of the school; this was my first written drama.

We can get something of a "feel" for God's view of history by looking back; we can pick up a reference book, open it anywhere, and see what was happening at a specific time and place. We can turn pages back or forward and dip into other events and other places. I suspect that this is God's view of the universe, but He can see it all, beginning to end--not being limited to a specific time and place as we are.  I cannot imagine what Eternity will be like, but that it will be totally different that anything we can imagine. I suspect that we also will not be stuck with time that passes at a specific rate and moves in one direction.

I also suspect that we get a little preview of God's version of time even in this world of clocks and days and seasons; we've all had the experience of subjective time that is not in synch with the clock. There are times when we become so engrossed in something that is happening that time flies by and we were not aware of the tick-tick-tick of  "real" time. We also have experiences of time that drags, either because we have "nothing to do", or we are looking forward to something that seems to be taking forever. (Moms know about subjective time, from the experience of having children to watching them grow, to watching them wait impatiently for some things and seeing time fly in others.)
We also have the markers of day and night, winter and summer, and experience the changes in these during the course of the year. Several years ago, my son David and I were in Finland the last weeks of June, not quite far enough to get a total midnight sun, but almost--at one point, he heard a weather report that announced "sunset 1am, sunrise 3am, twilight none." We went walking through a city on the west coast of Finland with afternoon sun at midnight, and went driving one evening out on an island chain in the gulf between Sweden and Finland most of the night, with the sun skimming the horizon.  God gives us these glimpses of the elasticity of time.

Time makes us plan and take responsibility for how we use the time He gives us; we also know that His schedule is not always what we want, but His timing is better than ours. It's not a matter of rigidly scheduling ourl lives (that doesn't work well) but of being aware of His leading as we seek His purpose for us.

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