The mind and heart to understand
And love the sovereign Lord who planned
That it should take eternity
To lavish all his grace on me.
O God of wonder, God of might,
Grant us some elevated sight,
Of endless days. And let us see
The joy of what is yet to be.
And may your future make us free,
And guard us by the hope that we,
Within the light of candle three,
Your glory will forever see.
– John Piper (Glorified)
A few months back I watched a science-fiction movie titled Arrival. The premise of the movie follows a linguist tasked with the responsibility of attempting to communicate with an invading alien species. The film initially seems to follow in a linear timeline, where the beginning scenes are appeared to have occurred in the past as per usual in film sequences. However the sudden plot twist comes when it is revealed that the logographic symbol, a circle, repeatedly used in communication by the invading aliens is a tool designed to alter how they perceive reality. From what was assumed a mere symbol of written communication, instead forms the basis of their entire concept of time.
This tool alters their perception of time, in that, in order to understand the present, the future becomes their past. In essence, life and therefore movement in time is not a single progressive line, but rather a continuous circle, where the future events dictate how to affect the present. The film then ends with the revelation that the entire initial sequence was part of the future rather than the past.
The film, thoughtfully written, and carefully unpacked brings about an existential question of what it would mean to live by acting according to your end. It is an interesting notion, where the impact and potential for opportunity could be expounded knowing how much more certain moments would hold. If knowing the future would be a reality, foresight becomes 20/20. If I could do it all over again, is the wistful thought of man in a mid-life crisis. To be young, re-write history and fix our mistakes we all think would make the world a better place. It is what makes a time-machine so appealing. With the knowledge that I have now, I know I would’ve done it right in the past.
However, i’ll admit thankfully, time is linear, and though advantageous it may seem to live life while watching the rearview mirror of our future, this is not our circumstance. Humanity attempts to play god enough, and in the midst of our fallible mortality, is the reality that we do not know how our life will end. We cannot know where we may get a job, to whom we will marry, and specifically how we may die. Throw in amongst that the thousands of micro life events that could be altogether life altering, and keeping a big perspective on life is like trying to solve a complex thousand piece puzzle with blindfolds on. You can sense edges and shapes, generally knowing where each piece should go, but have no clue about how it all fits together.
In spite of this, by and large, majority of people live their life on their own assumptions. Speculations that are based on their history, and the expectancy that those past trends will continue into the future. It is what forms the basis of mortgages, budgets, job-performance, health insurance, etc. Humanity, lives as though the past will automatically become the future, altogether forgetting the future is not guaranteed. We assume that we will go to college, find a job, buy a house, have a family, and otherwise live a comfortable life. We assume, and therefore expect. However much foggier is the future, then we would either realize and even more so like it to be.
Yet regardless of the haze that is planning for the future there are a few constants that all people can rely on. Further, the only constants that people should rely on
- All people will experience death
- All people will face their Creator in judgement
As a Christian we can hold to a few more constants
- Promises fulfilled as children of God
- Eternal life in Heaven with God
In simplicity living with the end in mind as a Christian, would mean working toward the affect of eternity. Belief in God, means we do not live our lives inn a linear motion like a movie, not knowing the end of it. Rather it is, seeing the end, and finding out how God effects the present. By the grace of God, we have the very word of God written out for us (John 1:1). The words of God which promise God is sovereignly in control of our life (Jeremiah 29:11). The plans, may not be as expect them to be, nor necessarily what we want, but it calls to move forward in greater dependance on him (2nd Corinthians 12:9). In our movement through life, is our purpose not to live based on our assumptions, throwing a half-guess in the wind, but looking at the Word, and taking it in accordingly. Therefore when we view God in this lens, is the perspective of viewing God’s sovereign end as a reality.
This perspective impacts our perception of life in a two-fold way.
- Time becomes all the more valuable, as every moment as an affect toward eternity
Knowing that the time we spend is not just a fleeting moment caught in the transience of time, but rather directly changes how we will enjoy eternity is a sobering thought. Put into this perspective, eternity creates a much more distinct picture of what is important in life. Given that with each passing day the preciousness of time increases, to strive for a living hope and treasures that will not be defiled (1 Peter 1:3-9) becomes a priority. Therefore to act according to eternity and not temporary joys, gives a purpose to strive for, regardless of the haze of the future.
Too often are we caught up with a few pixels on a screen, ensuring that they go right, that when we look at the whole high-definition picture, do we then realize frivolous this really is. Like a cleaner caught up in a spec of dust, are we so often focused on one small section of our lives. Too easy is it to forget that if the rest of the house is out of order, the spec of dust really does not matter! Get the rest of the house in order first, and deal with the spec of dust later. There are much more important things to worry about.
Lastly, knowing our own situation is secured, it should open our eyes to the plight of the millions of others around us. Living in the light of eternity, can we no longer be the blind leading the blind. Like a starving peasant for the first time eating a feast at the King’s table, can we no longer be satisfied knowing that there are millions of our desperate brothers and sisters all too content to eat crumbs and spoiled food. There is an open invitation, and they only need to accept it. Since our eyes have been opened to the wonders of our God and the opportunity at eternity spent with him, there is an urgency needed to point others toward it.
2. Since Eternity is guaranteed, and all the promises thereof, satisfaction and joy presently is possible.
We can rest assured that all the promises of God will be fulfilled, and therefore are satisfied as we find our joy in Him in our current moment. Knowing that in our whatever circumstance, God is working for our good (Romans 8:28), we can learn to abide in all circumstances (Philippians 4:12-13). We then can take joy, in the wonder of who God is, knowing our greatest needs have already been met in Him. If then we are presently satisfied, we can cease to strive for hope in future satisfaction. Future satisfactions in shallow temporal joys, that are presumed and expected, but never guaranteed.
Though our future may not necessarily hold what we expect, nor what we want, we can cease to fret over what may happen, knowing all along our dear saviour is with us (Matthew 28:20). Though jobless, unmarried, poor, alone, and a career with no upward trajectory, the Christian can endure because their treasure will not fade. Though hardships come, joy can be had (Philippians 4:4). There is a deeper, more satisfying rest living with the end in mind. Rather than fretting over what may happen in the future, we hope toward it, knowing the best is yet to be come.