In which we explore time itself (part 1)

by Craig on February 16, 2011

Here comes some uber heavy theology. It’s not my fault. Ann Voskamp made me do it.

Each week I link up with Ann and others for

And for the next three Wednesdays Ann calls the shots. And this is her assignment:

…explore the purpose of time, how to live in time, slow it down and not rush, how to use time as a holy thing…make time for God and for all things eternal…

You all know by now that I can’t have an invitation like that and not bite deeply.

Oh, and some very famous writers wrote about half of this post for me, I’ll be citing them as I go.

And we can’t start without asking a question…

What is time?

Augustine wrote “If no one asks me I know; but if I want to explain it I do not know.”

Time is moment by moment,
marked by events
like a ruler marked by inch lines.

It flows, marches, moves past us, like it or not.

Everything we experience, is all understood in reference to time.

A future approaches,
a present is here (and then gone)
and a past was once both of these.

But is it so for God?

Augustine said no,

“Your present day does not give place to tomorrow,

nor indeed, does it take the place of yesterday.

Your present day is eternity.”

and he said this:

“Everything past no longer exists,

everything future does not yet exist.

But in God’s sight there is nothing which does not exist.

Therefore, in God’s sight, nothing exists as past or future, but everything is now.”

By the way, thinking about eternity, and time, and how and where and why they meet, makes me giddy.  And here’s more Augustine. I heart this:

…every part of the past is forced out by the future,

and every part of the future follows upon the past,

and every past and future moment is created

and flows from that which is the everlasting present

…eternity is neither past nor future,

and determines the future and the past.

… every creation has a beginning,

time is a creation

and, hence,

it has a beginning.

What is unchangeable is eternal

…in that which is eternal there is nothing past as if it has already transpired,

nor anything future as if it does not yet exist,

but whatever is

simply is.

Oh I can’ tell you how much this stuff fills me up. This is deep mystery of God stuff.  I have inspiration wings carrying me over sunsets and moons because of this. I love thinking about this kind of stuff.

If you could only see my smile.

Anselm also wrote a little on this – and don’t worry – it’s just as heavy.

“You, although nothing exists without You, nevertheless do not exist in space or time; but all things exist in you.”

And here’s a little John Calvin:

“All things have been and perpetually remain before His eyes, so that to His knowledge, nothing is future or past, but all things are present.”

This is the way theology happens. It starts with the Holy Scriptures, and then come thousands of years of people studying and figuring it out. There is no new revelation – just new voices added to the chorus.

And a common thread weaves its way through all of this theology.

God is in no way bound by that creation of His which we call time.

In fact, God, free from the grasp of time, is free also to manipulate it in any way He sees fit – and he does.

C.S. Lewis says he does it, for instance, when we pray.

Have you ever wondered how God can hear the prayers of everyone praying all over the earth, at the same moment, and yet grant each of us a private audience?

I have.

C.S. Lewis did.

This was his answer:

“If a million people are praying to Him at 10:30 tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call 10:30. It and every other moment from the beginning of the world – is always the present for Him.”

Oh and I can barely keep from spilling right now the most magnificent miracle of time and eternity intersecting and….

oh well I will…

but no…

I have to wait…

But it’s HUGE!!!

But I’ve kept you too long already.

Off with you now.

I can’t talk about it again ’till next Wednesday.

I’m just a foot soldier, Ann Voskamp is the general.

By the way, if you haven’t bought Ann’s book “A Thousand Gifts” – you have to.

It will change your life.

God Bless

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie February 16, 2011 at 3:36 am

I saw your smile come out in your writing. :) It was fun to see and infectious! And, I have a thing about time and this is helping me soooo much. I feel . . .free! God bless you big time. :)


Craig February 16, 2011 at 8:36 am

Deb – honestly I was afraid this one might be too theological – But seriously – the deep stuff of God – the stuff that never really gets talked about – that’s one of the reason I have two blogs. THis one is for the deep stuff. I’m grateful that you liked it. Really. God Bless.


Dianna McBride February 16, 2011 at 8:43 am

Love your post, Craig! The quotes…especially those of Augustine…are WONDERFUL! Looking forward to coming back next Wednesday.


Craig February 16, 2011 at 8:58 am

Thank you Dianna – He wrote volumes about this. And he’s kind of a fave of mine anyway. So many thinkers have gone before us – I think we need to let their voices be heard from time to time. No? God bless you – and thank you for reading.


Anna February 16, 2011 at 10:12 am

great post! I clicked over, not having visited Ann yet today, – funny to see that her challenge is a topic I posted about this morning, without realizing :) I enjoy reading your writing


Craig February 16, 2011 at 10:14 am

Thank you Anna – I enjoy yours writing too. And like you – I actually posted a topic that Ann posted – complete with the same picture around Christmas time – all I can say is Great minds… God bless and Keep you – and thank you.


Alida February 16, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for this post, Craig. You always cause me to stop and think and ponder some more… and yes, your smile came through!


Craig February 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Hey – guess who’s blog I just read and commented on – now that is some nice timing :)

God Bless – and thank you Alida.


Anonymuss February 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm

These time issues are so important and all the more so as our years fly past! Yet, we are always and only in the present in this life. How to live life in a calm and relaxed, trusting way…that is what I would like to achieve with consistency! I love the thought, too, that maybe we can pray retroactively? That is, I can pray now for something that has already happened in human time, and because I don’t know the outcome yet….maybe my prayers can affect the outcome? I don’t know, maybe that is time-warp stuff for another time and day (pun not intended but there it is). I love that God is bigger than our time! You are right-this can be heady stuff.


Craig February 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm

A. Now I don’t speak from Sinai, and Scripture does not come right out and say this – but time and eternity – the way they are – the way God is – well let’s just say I have prayed on a Tuesday before – for something that happened on a Monday. Nuf said :)

God is big. Amen. God Bless.


marlece February 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Ok, there Mr. Craig, where have you been? This is one of the most ‘thought provoking’ posts I have read for a long time. I can see that the deep things of God are what motivate you. This issue of time…..He is the beginning, the middle, and the end and in all things HE IS IT! And if what we are doing (with our time) isn’t filled with the things of Him….then it’s not worth spending ‘time’ on. Great post, and I can’t wait to read more. Thank you for dropping by……..


Craig February 16, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Wow – that is brilliant. If God is the reason time exists, if this moment exists only because he does – then as you put it, “if what we are doing (with our time) isn’t filled with the things of Him….then it’s not worth spending ‘time’ on.”

That seems very significant!!!!!! Hmmmmmm. (insert wheels turning sound here)

And thank you for your kind words. I was so afraid this would be too much. That instead of being just deep enough it might be over the top – know what I mean? I feel better now.

God bless.


Candace February 17, 2011 at 11:07 am

Thank you for your comments on my blog!! I enjoyed this post very much, Augustine is one of my favorites too!! I am 5 chapters into Ann’s book now, good good stuff. I wrote a little bit about time and appreciating each moment yesterday!


Craig February 17, 2011 at 11:10 am

I look forward to reading your words. I’m still making my way through monday’s linky:)

And thank you for reading me. Means lots. God Bless.


Melissa February 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed this, Craig. Time is something I think about a lot, and yet I think I’m not thinking as deeply as needed to get His full perspective and thus, change mine.


Craig February 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Thank you Melissa. This was something I loved – and was a little afraid I’d be the only one who would find it interesting. The mysteries of the One who created everything with a word are mind boggling. Thank you for reading. God bless.


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