It All Matters

This past Sunday, I gave my last talk from the Justin stage. I found myself wondering what mattered most to say, of all of the hours spent giving instructions and leading prayers and worship from that stage – what really mattered?

Of all the late-night talks and coffee dates and school plays and Jenga games, what was it that was important? What still needed to be said?

As I looked back, I found myself thinking about those six years in the view of eternity. We believe as Christians that we will spend eternity with God. In the scope of endless time, what are just a few years worth? What about it matters at all?

I’ve been listening to some books about astrophysics, and I learned this really interesting thing about time. Here’s a little background: we experience our world in three dimensions. One dimension is a single spot, two dimensions would be a line, and the third dimension is what gives things shape. We can perceive the fourth dimension, but we don’t inhabit it. If something could only exist in two dimensions and it saw a sphere, which is three-dimensional, it would perceive it as a circle. The circle could be big or small, but it couldn’t be closer or farther, and it certainly couldn’t be round. The same is true for how we perceive the fourth dimension, and we do perceive it constantly.

The fourth dimension is time. This isn’t a thought experiment, it’s mathematically true. Time bends with the forces of relativity in the same way that space does, suggesting that time is not other than our dimensional experience, just a level above what we can perceive fully.

It’s fair to say we have a pretty limited understanding of time, of what six years or an eternity even really means. Maybe six years is more like eternity than we know; maybe it is much less.

There is no reason to assume that God perceives time the same way we do. There is no reason to believe that God, the creator of all things, somehow only perceives some of the aspects of dimensions that God has created. Just as we know a sphere moving away from a two-dimensional being isn’t getting smaller it’s just moving in a different direction, we can guess that God perceives time as moving in a way we can’t imagine.

What if, for God, our daily moments, our highs and lows, our struggles and victories, and the struggles and victories of all of humanity, happened all at once? What if the separation between past, present, and future was as arbitrary to God as the way we scale an object on a screen to look smaller is to us? We know the man on the screen isn’t getting bigger, he’s just moving closer; what if the same was true with time on a four-dimensional scale? What if time didn’t approach and then leave? What if it moved in some other way entirely?

In Jesus, God shows us that, for God, the bounds of time we see as immutable, are nothing. Life can come after death, the end of the story can be foretold in the beginning, and there is no too early or too late.

I tend to hold on to a lot of eschatological hope – hope for how all things will be redeemed in the end, that, at the culmination of it all, God’s grace, hope, peace, light, and love will be all that remains.

It makes me wonder if, for God, that ending is every bit as real now as the moment of time we can perceive we’re in.

If eternity, perfect eternity, exists alongside our present, maybe all as equally real to God, what about how we spend our days matters?

I wonder if it means that the things that matter most of our days are the things that reach across the gap from what is to what will be, from our present to God’s perfect present, and draws the two a little closer. If time isn’t a line but a space to be crossed, I wonder if all that matters is the effort we spend trying to reach across it and welcome the perfect future into our present.

I wonder if all that matters is the acts of love, grace, sacrifice, mercy, of steadfast belief in the world as it will be because those are the things that bring the future in. Those acts of hope, in the view of eternity, don’t make our lives seem small, they make them seem huge with possibility.

So as I looked back at the years of games, and chats, and donuts, and trips, and van rides, I couldn’t help but wonder if it all mattered – every bag of dog food scooped at the mission, every karaoke session in a 15-passenger van, every middle school play, every sonic trip. What if all of it brought the Kingdom of Heaven, the perfect future, a little closer to our weary present? What if all of it was light breaking through? Six weeks, six years, sixty years, all of it is only a measure of how much love you can pour into it.

It all mattered. It was all love. I am grateful to have been part of a community that loved each other so well. As I move on to other adventures, our graduating seniors move off to college, and Brenda begins her retirement, I feel secure in what we leave behind, in the truth that the love shown will matter more and for much longer than any career or memory can imagine.

It will matter to the edge of eternity itself.
It all mattered, and it always will.




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