When I was little I thought time travel was cool. Who wouldn’t want’t to go back to the future, or back to back to the future… or something. In college I tried to learn about historical financial events and the timelines of really successful people and companies; partly because it’s good to know those things, partly because I wanted to be prepared should I ever wake up in the 1910’s or the 1400’s. (You need to be prepared for these kinds of things, you know?)
Time travel was cool mostly because it was a fantasy. You can’t time travel back to the 1910’s.
Then I learned you could time travel, and I started to try it. Now, I time travel almost every day.
Last night I traveled forward in time to tomorrow (now today… “whoa”, right?), then I traveled back to 1996, and then forward again to 2024.
I thought about the day ahead, then I remembered something a teacher told me when I was in third grade, and then I worried about who I would be in 10 years.
You know what though?
Time travel sucks.
Time travel is one of the most detrimental things you could do for yourself. In our sinful nature, we’re prone to want to replay the past or pre-play the future, but it’s distracting and disorienting. It’s distracting because it literally takes our attention off of our present day actions. It’s disorienting because we were made in the image of an eternal God, and the only thing with any resemblance to eternity is the present, certainly not the past or future.
CS Lewis, in the Screwtape Letters, described it this way:
“In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time – for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays… Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”
The Scriptures are laden with warnings and admonishments about worrying about and planning for the future as if we could control it. “Don’t go into the future” the Scriptures say. Yet I find myself there all the time.
And what of the past? That body of experience that won’t leave you alone? Most of them have been wiped away and are no longer who you are. Your sins have been paid. Completely wiped away and separated from you in the eyes of the only judge that matters, why would you disagree with him. “Don’t go into the past” the Scriptures say. But there I go again.
We are supposed to live in the present because it’s the only place we can meet God. Surely, he is still in the past. And surely he is in the future (God’s omnipresence is a precious doctrine). But we won’t find him there… not the way wetime travel.
Focusing on the past or future keeps us from seeing God’s faithfulness to us right now, in this present moment of need. And he has never failed to provide for our present needs.
God. Has. Never. Failed. To. Provide.
It’s only in the past or the future that God fails us… and then, like time travel, it’s only in our minds.