St. Augustine stated that the past and future are illusory. What he was talking about is time. In the human concept of time one cannot be in the past, nor the future, only in the present, which of course instantly becomes the past and previously was the future. Yet, what of eternity? For is it not true that eternity in some sense contains time? Therefore, should we not consider the effects, possibilities and purpose (if there be one) for these two realms, both of which are amazingly important, and oft times captivating, for human beings?
To do so we must pause to ponder what is time that we regard it so in our lives and our world, and furthermore what is eternity that we consider it the ultimate cumulation of all time? Is there something or someone that rightly brings together time and eternity into one cohesive whole?
In the gospel of John we hear Jesus, the Christ, echo ancient words into the present, “before Abraham was, I am.”. Fusing the past, even prior to the past, with the present into an endless future he illuminates the presence of God in and beyond time. This revelational vision lends insight into the fact that time and eternity though seperate are in relation to each other through God, time is a part of Eternity, though not it’s fulfillment.
All of our moments occur in time, yet they can not give us a full understanding of Eternity by virtue of the fact that they are limited to the time in which they come and go. However, when pondered they can help to shine light upon the great desire within us, realized or not, that longs for endless living. Is it possible that the purpose of time then with it’s limitations and ultimate ending is to cause us to seek Eternity?
This notion of ime and the natural desire for time without end is profoundly part of what it is to be human. Realizing that our days are indeed numbered, and yet at the same time acknowledging the deep yearning set within us for Eternity, we can do no less than sincerely consider both the brevity and the enormity of life. Is life, in time, a great paradox? An insatiable yearning to know it’s meaning, yet having to accept the truth that we can never fully understand/comprehend it all here and now? Augustine, a mere man, sought such understanding with a genuine wonder and amazement, but was finally faced with the reality that some questions have no answers. Time, just as mankind, is here and then gone like a vapor upon the Wind. Eternity, just as God, is always here, always moving, like the spirit of the Wind that carries away and consumes the vapors of man. Eternity is the clockwork of God, not man, and the ageless answers to the questions of the ages for mankind concerning the notion of time here and now are only truly to be found in Eternity. For in Eternity the only time that is is the present, always, at all times.
– I realize these thoughts have not really answered anything. They’ve only engaged, for the moment, more mystery. Of what we are able here and now to fathom, that is precisely the point. All the mystery of time and Eternity is meant, I believe, to cause us to search and grope for something close at hand, yet far beyond and longer lasting than us and our brief moments. Something at the same time before and after, never beginning and never ending, something no clock, calendar nor plan of man can ever manage or measure.
So, how do we do this properly? With an earnest trust that what is behind and beyond Eternity is also the Master of time. Therefore, take time to ponder Eternity now and then, always remembering that in the final analysis we can do no more than simply wait faithfully on the Lord. Because the answer of all that Eternity encompasses shall only be revealed in God’s own good time.