Time. It is the great mystery. Past, present and future. The past is beyond our grasp, as is the future. We sense that somewhere out there the past exists as we lived it. We are the same people that we were when we engaged in past circumstances, solved past problems, pursued past goals. We can remember it, but we cannot relive it. Likewise, we believe that somewhere out there lies our future. We can envision it, but we cannot yet experience it, and, we have learned that our envisioned future might turn out far different than we imagine. Only the present moment belongs to us.
Our modern measurement of time with nano-second precision has given us the illusion that we can control time and make it our servant, that we can stretch it and compress it. We pant through frenzied days of frantic activity trying to conquer the clock. In almost every sport, whether football, basketball, soccer or track, we are competing against time, trying to manage the clock. The team that can best utilize fractions of a second to put points on the board, emerges the winner. Golf and tennis, competitions passed down to us from an era before the clock ruled, have been adjusted to fit our time-conscious culture by putting players “on the clock” to speed up play while adding sudden death play offs and tie breakers.
Two centuries ago, without mechanical and electronic precision, men measured their lives by more natural cycles: seasons for planting, growing and harvesting; the moon, waxing and waning from a tiny silver sliver to a full faced orb and back again; days measured by the shifting shadows of the rising and setting sun. Trans-ocean travel was dependent upon the wind and the currents in the sea. Time was less precise. Time moved more slowly. In some ways, life was lived closer to eternity.
When we touch God we reach beyond the boundaries of time into a realm that exists beyond us. We are drawn into the “eternal.” Even the word “eternal” is inadequate to convey the reality and ultimate dimensions of God. The New Testament writers, writing in Greek, opted for the term eis aionion, literally “into the age” or “beyond the age.” It could also be translated “beyond time.” Everywhere we read the word “eternal” in the New Testament, it is the translation for this mysterious phrase, eis aionion. God draws us beyond time into a dimension that cannot be measured by our mortal comprehension.
When God revealed Himself to Moses, he gave his name as “I AM,” a clear reference to His timeless being. When Jesus explained his identity, He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus said that those who believe in Him “will never die.” Faith changes the game. It suspends the clock, stretches the moment into eternity and compresses eternity into the moment. When we come to faith in God through Jesus Christ, he lifts us out of our myopic mortal existence and pours eternity into our soul. He invites us to live eis aionion, into the age.