The Fleeting Time Construct
Time is unattainable and for decades the make-up industry has failed at trying to reverse it. It is a powerful and confusing construct that no human has power over. Many sci-fi blockbusters and television series focus on the impact of traversing through it and capturing its power. Doctor Who, Back to the Future, and even current dramas such as Westworld either attempt to manipulate it or at least use it as some plot device.
Not only is time itself full of mystery, but so is God’s relationship with it. This ambiguity is found in 2 Peter: “8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” There are verses in the Bible that make me laugh either in the result of comedic relief or just confusion, and this is the latter. I share no relation or comprehension of this verse. I have no idea what a thousand years are like!
When it comes to God, how should He be perceived in time? There are many working parts to this question, which reside in “Free Will” and “God’s Will.” Many lean one way or another and few reside in the tension between. Some may reason that God perceives all that is to happen; some think that he is limited by the choices we make. These on-screen interpretations of time manipulation may be able to help us define God’s use of it.
Griffin the Seer
I am a huge fan of the Men in Black series. It’s hard to beat the dynamic duo of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith (am I right!?). In the third and final installment of the series, there is an alien called Griffin that can see all the possible contours of the near future. I used to think this was a suitable model for how God may operate in the time-schema. Obviously, this isn’t exactly how it works, but it is fun to imagine some of the characteristics and mechanics of God in the universe.
I think there is a problem with liking God to my buddy Griffin, though. Griffin has no will or authority directing the future. He is just a spectator. This is a limited view of God’s presence in time and our own lives. Many of us may think that our role is based simply on free will and that God is just a spectator. God has a will and He is always acting in accordance with it.
God, the Time Lord
Here are two scriptures that speak to the nature of God’s divine action and will.
11 For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. 12 Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. 13 When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart…
Here, the Israelites are exiled in Babylon. Often, this verse is thrown around with very little weight. You may hear someone say, “Everything is going to be fine,” and throw this passage in as a sort of encouragement. But it’s not that simple. Israel will be facing this tribulation for a couple decades (605-586 B.C.E.) then God will give the King of Persia the power to take Babylon. From the writings of Jeremiah, there is a prophetic characteristic given to YHWH’s nature. He knows what is to come and He will make it happen.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
This is a difficult passage to interpret with words like “chosen” and “destined.” From Calvinism, predestination, and the question of free will, there are many degrees of interpretation on what the original intent of Paul was here. Even when we look away from that, it is always hard to come to terms with the fact that this sacrifice was part of the plan for God’s salvation. Again, God has no intention of giving His people a couple of tablets and taking a back seat. How blessed are we that He isn’t! God had a plan of redemption for the Israelites as well as the Gentiles.
Leading Narrative Games
Sorry Griffin, you’re just not gonna cut it.
In the past few weeks, I have been playing Telltale’s newest game, Batman. Telltale Games has been doing a brilliant job with episodic narrative games. In fact, they have been producing many renditions of major series such as Batman, The Walking Dead, and Guardians of the Galaxy. What makes these games so special is that within the game, users have the ability to alter the character they play. For instance, the gamer is allowed the option to choose which path to take throughout the story. This may be as small as choosing which weapon to bash a walker’s face in with or how to engage in a relationship with the Penguin in Gotham City.
What is interesting is that the directors of these episodes must lead users in a specific direction. Obviously, the writers have a defined plot line for the story. From beginning to end a user may not only decide mere choices but the moral composition of her character as well. If you are a fan of the Walking Dead, it may be like choosing to respond to the decaying world like Rick or becoming reserved like Morgan.
God and His Story
I think this may be a more accurate perception of God and His planning. God has a will for His creation and a will for our own lives. We are all part of this narrative and own the choices and decisions we make. When you wake up tomorrow, what choices will you make and how will they define you as a servant of God’s Kingdom?
God has His conclusion written and He’s penned in the Kingdom. He has a prophetic nature and from the examples given in scripture, we know that He will reign. As Christians, we strive to work alongside this will that exceeds time and persecution and work towards the coming of His Kingdom.