God’s Eternal Now

Now! This present moment, is where time and eternity intersect. Yes, now is the time of God’s favor. Now is the time of salvation. God is always present in the moment that we call ‘now.’ It is we who are often missing from the moment and, therefore, are often out of touch with God.

C.S. Lewis give us a powerful meditation on “time” in his great masterpiece, “Screwtape Letters.” In his Letter XV, he has the senior devil, Screwtape, counseling the apprentice devil, Wormwood, to do everything he can to keep his “patient” entirely focused on either mourning the past, or dreaming about, or fearing the future. Screwtape says, “Our business is to get them (meaning us) away from the eternal and from the present.” And later in the letter Screwtape very pointedly advises Wormwood, telling him that if his “patient” begins to “concern himself with the Present because there, and there alone, all duty, all grace, all knowledge, and all pleasure dwell, his state is very undesirable and should be attacked at once.” The devil does not want us to be present to the now, for that is where God waits for us. It is in the now moment, the present, that we meet God in our prayers. It is in the now present moment that we are given the graces we need to live the Christ life to which we are called.

I remember attending an Evangelical Youth Conference, many years ago now, where one of the main speakers tried to explain God’s sense of time to the audience of teenagers, young adults, youth ministers and pastors. He said that we can only approach such a mystery through metaphors, so he proceeded to use the metaphor of the speed of light to explain it. According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, the closer you get to the speed of light, time past and time future disappear and only the present exists. He was using the metaphor of the speed of light to help us understand that, for God, all time is the present, that God’s time is the eternal NOW. Therefore, God knows, the moment of Creation, the moment of the Passover, the moment of the Incarnation in the eternal NOW. The stunning implication of that speaker’s presentation for me came when he said something like this: “Right now, at this moment, Christ is suspended on the cross, looking out over the crowd below. Right now, he is catching your eye, and looking at you intently, even through his terrible suffering, with an intensity of love that you have never known before. And he says to you with his eyes, right now, “I love you so much that I am willing to endure this suffering for you, now, in this present moment, for all of time.”

Of course, then, it is also true that the resurrection is NOW as well. Today’s passage makes sense, then: “NOW is the time of God’s favor, NOW is the day of salvation.” God, in all of his greatness, in all of his mercy, is present, here, and NOW. It is our greatest desire to be present to God as he is present to us. The greatest prayer for us, then, is “Thy will be done.” It is in the present moment that I can respond to God’s will. It is in this time, on this day, that I wish to do his will, and his alone. It is here and now that I make the choice to bend my will to God’s. Yes! Now is the time of God’s favor. Now is the day of salvation. Oh, that we could have this awareness lighting up our minds every moment of our days!

Oh, sweet Lord, help us to be awake enough in every moment of every day to be aware of your presence within ourselves, in all those we meet, and in all occasions. We do not ask for anything dramatic, but simply to be able to know your presence through your constant, gentle whisper in the depths of our hearts, now and always. In your name we pray, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.