Background Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3
Focus: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
(Author's note: I apologize in advance for the added length of this e-votion. I trust that you will understand that, since I neglected to post one last week, I am endeavoring to make up for lost "time." ;-)
If you were able to brave the weather last Sunday morning, you already know that we are examining what is perhaps the world's most famous existential rant; the book of Ecclesiastes. And, while many people feel that Solomon's purpose was to encourage pessimism, fatalism, and the sale of Zoloft, I frankly don't read it that way.
Take for example the subject of TIME. Solomon uses that word 17 times is the space of chapter 3 (NIV) and he seems to be preoccupied with it. But, aren't we all? Don't we have to be? Don't we fret about the lack of it, regret the past, worry about the future, and sometimes feel uncomfortable in the present? The overwhelming conclusion is YES because we're stuck in it.
Which brings us to a very important existential question of our own:
"How can we creatures who live in time relate to a timeless God?" That pertinent question is the subject of a remarkable little book I read by Ellen Vaughn. She titled it, Time Peace: Living Here and Now with a Timeless God. In it she examines the topic of time and timelessness from a biblical and scientific perspective (no conflict here).
As you may know, a kind-of funny looking, fuzzy-headed German Jew by the name of Albert Einstein, in 1905 came up with a remarkable little theory that he simply referred to as E=MC2. For those of us who don't speak scientific shorthand, that simply means that only the speed of light is constant and that time is the variable.
Even though we all say that we have the same amount of time each day, Einstein and others have explained that, as velocity increases, time slows down. For example, if you were to go out for a run and decided to show off by running at the speed of light, when you returned home your neighbors would be one hour older but you would not.
That also means that, as you look at me from across the Sunday School room you are really seeing me as I appeared one-billionth of a second earlier. The only reason I don't look any younger is that this time interval is 10 million times shorter than your brain can process. Anyway, what does all of this scientific mumbo-jumbo have to do with God and our relationship to Him?
Simply this: God is (pure) light and in Him there is no darkness at all (
I John 1:5).
Suddenly it hits you: If the closer one gets to absolute velocity (the speed of light) the more time slows down then, isn’t it also true that a being who could ride a beam of light would not age at all? That being would live in an eternal NOW.
So, as it turns out, the more we know about the scientific nature of light, the more the biblical use of imagery intensifies our appreciation for the eternal and the Divine. Science, as it turns out, does not lead us away from God but instead magnifies His wonders. Quite an epiphany!
All of which leaves us to ponder the perplexing paradox of a timeless God who knows our finite days and lovingly holds them in His hands. Even in this there is hope!
A.W. Tozer put it this way. “How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none. Eternal years lie in His heart. For Him time does not pass, it remains; and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years.” Timely advice.
Adapted from Time Peace by Ellen Vaughn; Zondervan, 2007