We live one nanosecond at a time with little awareness one after another nanoseconds pass by and add into minutes that become the present. But how hard is it to really live in that present moment? We are surrounded by devices that pull us forward beyond this nanosecond and memories and consequences of other nanoseconds that pull us backward. Living in the present moment is not as easy as it sounds even though we live one moment at a time.
“To live in the past and future is easy. To live in the present is like threading a needle.”Walker Percy
God created time when He created the universe, hung the sun, moon, and stars in place while also mystifying us by telling us his name, I AM. His name reminding us of his presence continuously with us. Finite minds can give assent and yet not fully grasp the reality. We, his creation with finite minds, live within the confines of time. And often we war with it, wanting it to slow down or move faster and being incapable of adjusting its course.
I wonder if that is what feeds our desire to know what will happen next in this life as well as the next. The passage of time reminds us that we are not in control of nearly as many things as we might wish while yet given choice about how we spend it.
Add to this that we live in two worlds at once, the seen and the unseen. The unseen creates curiosity as well as anxiety because we accept it is there while not knowing a great deal about it. The unseen spiritual world is the big picture in which the material world is set, the canvas upon which God chooses to tell us about himself and us. And what a canvas it is!
“Our existence is framed in matter. Nothing in the gospel is presented apart from the physical, nor can it be understood or received apart from the physical. That is not to say that there is nothing but matter, for that would deny most of what living by faith asserts. But it does mean that nothing can be experienced apart from matter. The great invisibles, God and the soul, are incomprehensible apart from the great visible, heaven and earth. “Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder
Because we are matter and live in the confines of physical space, time, and matter, it can be easy for us to lose track of the unseen world we live in as well and scripture reminds us not to lose sight of the difference or importance of the unseen world.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)
Paul challenges the believers in Corinth and us that where the big things are really happening is in the unseen world where God is working and as we tune our ears and eyes to become more alert, we get glimpses of what is doing in his workplace – creation, heaven, and earth. That’s where the biggest headlines are being written as we watch the material world teetering and decaying.
All these things can get us caught up in trying to know more about what lays ahead and we can get lost in books that try to forecast when the end of all things will come and what it will look like. Some try to excise every word and line in the Revelation trying to decipher the messages in the visions and the significance in the numbers and miss the big picture that the book is John outlining what he heard from Jesus and telling us one last time who He is, who God is, and inviting us to where we are meant to be – worshipping Him. Scripture teaches us that He is the beginning and the end, and I don’t think his desire is for us to get lost in the details.
“When Jesus promised his return, he did not intend to scare us out of our wits, or license a guild of prophets who would earn a comfortable living by making book on the time. He placed himself firmly ahead of us, as end, just as he had established himself at the beginning…If we cannot join our beginning to our end, we will live scattered and incoherent lives. The expectation of Jesus’ coming provides a goal that shapes and unifies life in accordance with its origins in Christ, in patterns that are consonant with its completion in Christ. This urgency is liberating, for it compels us to stay awake, deeply and earnestly aware of who we are and what we are doing, keeping us free from trivia, that, like the threads of the Lilliputians, can make prisoners of us effectively as any ball and chain.”Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder
It is key to remember that two words are used for time in scripture and John in the Revelation uses both of them – chronos that we know well and is measured by clocks and calendars and kairos which connotes the unseen faith, the anticipation that is not limited by clocks and calendars.
The risk we face is that our senses of Him working in the unseen world become dull as time (as we know it) moves forward. It is that which will muffle the sound of his voice and dim the things He would have us see each day. God first created light because He would not have us walk in the darkness and perhaps to also remind us that his light, Christ’s light, conquered and is and will conquer darkness.