One of my favorite movies growing up was Back To the Future. I remember being filled with wonder and amazement at all the possibilities of traveling through time and introducing skateboarding and Rock and Roll to the world (excluding of course the accidentally-dating-your-mom bit and being named after your underwear). Although the movie was entertaining and exciting, the ability to travel back and forth in time remains a myth. Or is it?
GOD: The great and powerful time traveler
God created Time. It is a created dimension. Time as we know it has not always existed. There was a beginning of time (Genesis 1), and there will be an end of time (Daniel 12:4). Outside of time, there is only eternity. It’s difficult for a finite person to discuss or understand infinity, because we are not infinite. However, we are eternal beings, and God has given us spiritual insight and revelation into a very peculiar and largely undiscovered ability to access and experience future realities while living in the present. You’re gonna kick yourself when I tell you what this ability is. And then you’re going to want to know how to do it. Are you ready? Okay, here it is. We are able to “time travel” with God utilizing the simplest yet profound gift He’s given us. It can be summarized in one word……..FAITH.
“Ohhhh, well yeah, right. I mean of course, faith. Like I can imagine myself in the future and close my eyes and just believe, and “experience” what I want, right? Kind of a visualization exercise?”
No. Actually it’s not like that. It’s much much better. Just in case you think I’m a wingnut, let’s look at the bible to see how God relates to His creation. Particularly the creation of man. Everything God has done and still does is either Present-based (Now) or Promise-based (Future). Outside of the creation of the world, which the bible tells us “He spoke….and it WAS,” God is mostly Promise-based in His interactions with us. See Genesis 1, Hebrews 11:3, and John 1:1-3 for examples of Now-based utterances from God that produced immediate results.
God’s way of talking to us is largely prophetic. What I mean is that He speaks a promise to us now on earth based on how He regards us eternally in heaven, not as we see ourselves. And fortunately He doesn’t punish us for our insolent, negative self-regard that inevitably comes up in us when we hear Him tell us who we are. Look at how God spoke to Gideon when He wanted to take him out of his sulking small-mindedness and faithlessness. In Judges 6 we read how God would accomplish an impossible military victory for Israel through Gideon in the future. When the angel of the Lord initially talked to Gideon he was pissed off and disgruntled about the national economy and how the enemies of God would come and steal their harvest after all their toil. Gideon also thought of himself as small, weak, and incapable. He was from the smallest tribe of Benjamin, and he was the smallest person in that tribe. But look at how beautiful God is. Look at how He talks to Gideon…
“then the Lord appeared to Gideon and said to him, “The Lord is with you, oh Valiant Warrior!”
Valiant warrior? HA! Go read Judges 6 and tell me if you would regard Gideon the same way God did. How was God able to speak to Gideon in such a moving and compassionate, uplifting way? Because God wasn’t then, nor is He now limited to or restricted by time. The way we are regarded in heaven is very different than how we regard ourselves on earth. The way God regards us in heaven is not limited to time, therefore He is free to regard us as the best version of ourselves at all times. What He says about us is the way we really are. God already knew Gideon’s future self and was able to regard him as valiant and warrior-like. God had instant access to all points in Gideon’s lifespan, and had plans for him to be victorious in battle, and as we read later in the book of Judges, Gideon was able to be obedient to step out into the impossible and accomplish impossible victories through God. (NOTE: Read in Judges about how God whittled down Gideon’s army from 30,000 to 300 men and then told them to bang pots and pans in the dark in order to defeat the enemy. Crazy. Impractical. Illogical. Unreasonable. I love it!)
God is prophetic in this way. He is not all that interested in giving out dates and helping us predict SuperBowl and Powerball winners. He’s entirely interested in developing our understanding of WHO WE ARE IN CHRIST so that the way we think and act and show up in the world reflects how we are regarded in Heaven. How God sees us is how we can see ourselves. This glorifies God. And that is our chief goal.
So how do we do that?
No really. If God has given you a specific and personal promise about the future….you can time travel.
No seriously Jon, you’re freaking me out. You’re one of those nutjobs.
Stay with me. Look at the timeline below…
God’s perspective knows no time limits or restrictions. Not only can He see all points in a linear timeline at once, His assessment and pronouncement of our identity doesn’t come from what we DO in that timeline. It comes from being in His Son. Being In Christ. We have been placed there by Him (1 Corinthians 1:30). THAT is how He regards us. Perfect. Valiant. Strong. Good. Unblemished. That’s how He can regard us in this way. From where He sits He not only sees His intended outcome which absolutely shall be, but enjoys the process of relating to us until we experience the promised outcome. We’re invited by God to have His same perspective (which is not restricted by time) through faith. By God speaking to us what is to be in the future, He gives us permission to not only believe it, but speak and act and regard ourselves as the person He has promised us we are. We can experience the future through God-given faith. He called Gideon a “Valiant Warrior” before Gideon experienced even the first moment of fighting. What’s more, He spoke to Gideon of his true identity in heaven. So even in his pathetic and disgruntled state of self-loathing and bitterness at his surroundings, God graciously gives Gideon his TRUE identity, and says to him in Judges 6:14 “Go and do what I have planned for you as the Valiant Warrior you are, because I am with you.” In other words, “I give you all the permission in heaven to walk out by faith what I have told you. Believe in my assessment of you, and now go and walk it out.” This is Process. The great thing is that our Sovereign Father will orchestrate our circumstances to refine and refine and refine us again, making us exactly what He has said we are.
By faith we can see and experience the joy and identity of our future reward NOW. This is WAY better than being transported to a future time by some scientific formulation or contraption (even if that were possible), but then remaining exactly as we are as a person and experiencing no change within ourselves. God does way better than that. He changes us by giving us a promise, which initiates a change in perspective of our identity. It’s a future identity. A future reward. A future possession. A future treasure. And then says to us, “now live in that identity. THIS is who you are. THIS is what you will experience. THIS is your reward. Live, eat and breathe it. It’s yours.”
This is not mental gymnastics, self help, or simply a visualization technique with Jesus-packaging. This is faith. This is miraculous relationship and ability given to us by the most kind, gentle, astounding, beautiful, outrageously generous, giving, fun, and adventurous Person there is.
In Time Travel With God Part II we’ll talk about the relational PROCESS between announcement of promise and fulfillment of promise. We’ll talk about David, Abraham, and others who became entirely different people simply by God’s promise being announced to them.