Friday, January 20, 2012

A Kind of Time Machine, Part IV

This post is part of the CW blog chain (see sidebar at right). This month's topic is "quest". Please be sure to visit the other writers' posts and leave comments if possible. This is also part IV of a series I started in 2011. Parts I, II, and III can be found here, here, and here.

Everyone it seems at times looks for ways to turn back the clock in their lives. In a sense, they are on a quest for more time. Yet we can never build our own personal time machine to go back and change a conversation, to extend our goodbyes to a friend or a relative we'll never see again, to take back words that did too much damage in their time, or to fix our parenting mistakes. Fixing such issues would probably create a host of paradoxes anyway, and who knows, if you fixed the original situation, a new problem might crop up in its place.

Why aren't more people happy with their age or with the time they have been given? Why do some people turn to the bottle, or pills, or surgery as a way of keeping the past alive?

Our lives seemed to be filled with quests. Quests for more time, money, a better life, more friends, etc. Yet the time one seems to be the most puzzling one considering that in some respects, it's the one element we have the least control over. Once it is gone, you can't get it back, and unlike the sands in an hourglass, you can't just flip things over and start again.

Maybe some of this quest has to do with this verse from Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV - 1984) which reads:
"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
The first half of chapter three of Ecclesiastes deals with time, and yet there is this curious line about "setting eternity in our hearts". It's as if God has put a quest or in our hearts to seek out the immortal, the timeless, or to see things from an eternal perspective. At the same time, we do not have the capacity to see everything from beginning to end, much less comprehend it. In other words, it's a quest that never ends!

We know our lives are finite. We know there will come a day when our creations, dreams, hopes, and plans will be replaced by another generation. Yet God freely offers a free transit pass to eternity—or, to put it another way, a free ticket to the New Jerusalem. Maybe this is a big stretch, but perhaps the New Jerusalem is not only a city, but also some kind of creation capable of time ultimate time machine of sorts since it appears over the earth one day and descends from the clouds. Whatever the case, it will be 1,400 x 1,400 x 1,400 miles across, which means it's also likely either a giant cube or one very big pyramid (see Revelation 21).

Despite all this knowledge of the future, some still do not trust in its validity. Others do not want to part with the lives they've built or see any use for a ticket to eternity. Yet when the end of their individual timeline comes, then what? The quest is still there, unfufilled, and now maybe accompanied by a sense of remorse or perhaps bitterness. There is still time to change that, of course, if the person is willing.

Until then, however, as the inscription on many a clock reads...tempus fugit.


  1. We may not be immortal but praise God--He made us eternal! That's even better since heaven is a better place to spend eternity than down here.

    I enjoyed this reminder of our eternal nature and that the quest should be eternity, rather than our mortality here. Great post!

  2. Good post. Part of time's fascination is that it's such an ephemeral thing. I think those who try to stop the clock, as it were, lack faith in a better future.
    I love the story about the health food/exercise guru who appeared on the old Dick Cavett show touting his program. He said, "Let's face it, I'm going to live forever." They went to a commercial break and, when Dick Cavett turned to say something to him, he found him slumped over in his chair dead as a doornail.
    Peace and Blessings

  3. I just want enough time to stand still so I can get caught up on the laundry. Really. Is that too much to ask?! :) Great take on the "quest" theme today!

  4. Terrific post, Mike. I once wrote a poem about the paradox of being an eternal soul in a temporal body, and your words here bring that back to mind:


    Eternity is calling,
    tugging at our souls;
    we lose track of the days
    as we move toward our goal.

    Is it Tuesday or Friday,
    January or May?
    As I wake up in the morning,
    I fight to name the day.

    Timeless spirits in time-bound bodies –
    our conflict does increase
    as we approach the Day
    when time for us will cease.

    Eternity with Jesus
    in bodies that will not die –
    no wonder we say, “Come, Lord!”
    as we feel the time fly by.

    © 2000 Traci Bonney

  5. The first thing I thought about when reading your post was Doctor Who. He travels through time.

    It's wonderful that God gives us eternal life if we trust in His son. John 3:16 all the way. We need to enjoy the time we have now for sure and not worry about the past or the future. Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. Thanks for the comments.

    @TraciB: Great and "timely" poem! Thanks for sharing.

    @Suzette: I think I've been watching too many old Doctor Who episodes lately. :-)

  7. Replies
    1. Time travel is one of those themes with limitless possibilities - all because, as you say, we humans are on a quest for more of it. Great post.

  8. Too many people don't think they are finite but can become immortal if they can make a "name" for themselves. Alas they fail to realize they already have a name that it either written or unwritten in the book of life which is the most important book to be in.

  9. What a fascinating theory. I must admit that it would be pretty awesome if God granted us the ability to travel through time in the new Jerusalem. The science fiction nerd in my finds that very appealing. Imagine going back to see the pyramids being constructed. Then again, once we see God displayed in all His glory, will be be able to tear ourselves away from Him? Probably not.

  10. My favorite part of this post is the question: "Why aren't more people happy with their age or with the time they have been given?" So often we want something more, different, less, better, and every time we miss the gift we already have -- another moment here on this earth with the ones we love. I don't love being up all night with my son when he's sick from his GI disease, but I'm so grateful we're still home and not back at Children's Hospital, grateful he's still here, grateful to spend quiet moments talking with my teenage son of few words. It's all perspective. Thanks for a great reminder!

  11. Oh, time travel in New Jerusalem! Love the idea. I think God created time for us to be able to manage life. But in heaven? Hey, if eternity is eternal, who needs a watch, right?

    I really enjoyed this post, Mike.

  12. "The quest is still there, unfufilled, and now maybe accompanied by a sense of remorse or perhaps bitterness. There is still time to change that, of course, if the person is willing." Excellent, and such a poignant reminder of the control we have over our reactions to our lives and our choices.

  13. this whole time thing... i'm completely good with it!

  14. Thank you Michael for another inspiring post! Yes, we are all on a personal quest for "something" that evades us, for the most part, if we had it, we wouldn't be seeking. What I find interesting is that God created us to be "seekers" otherwise life would lose it's adventure, "eternity set in our hearts". Unfortunately we sometimes get caught up in the "cares of this life" as Jesus said and not in the "quest" of discovering the thrill of living in the moment by moment gift God has given us to enjoy with eternity as a bonus!

  15. Excellent post, Michael. I'd never looked at it this way before. Thank you for sharing this.

  16. Thanks for the great comments. Now if only there was more time to write!

  17. You hit on one of my favorite verses in the Bible. That paradox of unfathomable eternity in each of us gives us what I call "the heart of the seeker." We know there's something greater than us . . . yet no matter how much we quest for it, we simply can't grasp it. We have to accept that it's something beyond us, and that our only access to the answers is through the One who set that eternity into motion (and into our hearts).

    What a great take on the quest theme, Mike. Nicely done.