In Morality and Time, we discussed the individual subjective “time horizon” which is a consequence of our living inside a time-bound perspective, rather than in eternity. Now we incorporate that eternal perspective.
Long and Short Time Horizons
If our time horizon is very short, then our life is in a sense not a life at all, but a series of lived snippets of time. We’re conscious; we’re aware; we follow by logical inference the consequences of our acts, but only within a short range of time.
If our time horizon is long, then our life makes sense as a whole; everything we do is tied to everything else, even though there are variables that we don’t control. Indeed, the uncontrollable variables become fewer, because many turn out not to be so uncontrollable after all. Our lives as a whole begin to make more sense, if our time horizons are long.
We live our life in a time-linear way. We start at a definite point, we move forward in a straight line (straight because determined by one variable, time) and we end at a definite point. At the moment that is “now,” our understanding is well-illuminated. The line behind “now” is in our memory, but the farther back we go, the dimmer it is. There’s a reason we sometimes don’t learn from our mistakes. The line ahead of “now” is unknown, except insofar as we can extrapolate from our current trajectory.
Imagine that same life lived outside of time. Imagine that instead of living incrementally constrained to this line with a dim picture of past and future, the moments of your life are contained loose in a box, and not only that, but you stand on the outside of it, looking in, seeing all the moments at once. You have a big box of “now’s.” I imagine this to be God’s perspective. If you were outside of the box of your life, you would arrange all of your “now’s” into a coherent whole. You would give those “now’s” a place in a story which has purpose and meaning. You wouldn’t screw up any of the “now’s.” You’d live well. In fact, you’d live perfectly. You’d have a morally perfect life.
Is this what it means to live in Eternity? Is this box-perspective the more real perspective, as compared to the life we live this side of the veil? Maybe all of this life in the body is just a march we’re given to undertake with limited perspective, in which God is engaged in trying to stretch our time horizons, readying us for eternity. We march with trust that when we reach eternity, that wider perspective will become ours. We trust that there is not just more than this life, but there’s a whole new set of dimensions, an expansive view of reality that cannot be perceived now. It is as though now we look as through a glass darkly, but we trust that then we will see as face to face. Let’s call that trust “faith.”
Next time: Abundant Living. You can wait till it’s posted, or read it now, but in it, we continue this theme of morality and time.