Maybe it’s the philosophical implications, or maybe it’s the endless storytelling possibilities, but there’s something intriguing about time travel. I mean, who wouldn’t want to move freely through time and space, to drop in on any event at any time, to travel to the past to save the future world from global destruction at the hands of a super villain…that sort of thing.
Of course, in real life, even mental time travel is difficult for us. Past, present, and future bear on our lives in equally important ways, but balancing our perspectives on them can be difficult. And unfortunately, many of us tend to get stuck in one of the three.
Take the past, for example. I’m sure each of us knows an “Uncle Rico.” They are living out their lives but never really moving forward, clinging to failed dreams, continually trying to relive “the glory days.” Or maybe it’s something more distressing. Some are shackled and enslaved to guilt and shame over past sins, or continually bitter and angry over sins committed against them.
Then there are the YOLO and FOMO people of the present. Take everything you can now or you might miss out. Forget the consequences! You’re not truly living unless you indulge every desire to do what makes you happiest right now.
There are yet others with tunnel vision to the future – never content, never at peace because they’re always hoping the grass will be greener once X happens in the future. They forget the good that has already happened and miss the opportunities in front of them in the present because they are too busy worrying about the future.
I’ve been stuck in all three at various times. I think we all have. But as Christians, we should always hold our past, present, and future loosely, not weighed down or encumbered by any of them. Each is a gift from God meant to point us back to Him. And unlike our circumstances and fickle hearts, He has not, does not, and will not change.
Our pasts are paid for in Christ. While there may be lingering consequences of our actions, we can be free from the guilt and yoke of our past sins. Regrets and wishes for things done differently shouldn’t stand very tall against the depth of of God’s sovereignty over our lives, knowing that even our failures can be used for our good and God’s glory. We can also forgive because God forgave us first. And just as it was in the Old Testament when God had His people establish altars and traditions to continually remind them of what He had done, we can also look to our pasts for numerous markers and reminders of God’s multicolored goodness.
We can fully engage with our present, not merely to seize the day or for our selfish impulses, but because every circumstance God brings our way is an opportunity to love and serve others, to grow in grace, or to live out and share the Good News. We can enjoy God’s good blessings to us and also find our rest in Him when trials come along, walking with Him through whatever He’s put before us.
And finally, our futures are secure. Even when we don’t know the details of the paths our lives will take, we know how everything ends. We can have hope and peace in the midst of everything going on in our lives and in our world because we know God will eventually redeem and restore it all. We can live free from entangling mirages like materialism and the approval of man, because we know what will last and what won’t in the end.
So let’s evaluate where we’re stuck. And let’s pray that God would help us to move through time effortlessly – at peace with our past, purposeful in our present, and joyful for the future. For we serve Him who holds eternity in His hands, who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”