The year I turned ten, I saw MGM’s The Time Machine and immediately became obsessed with the idea of time travel. I held my breath in the end when inventor George returned to the future to make it better. And I choked-up when his insightful botanist friend observed, “He has all the time in the world.”
Years later, I was invited to a liquidation sale of props and costumes from the old MGM Studios. Some iconic items were available at absurdly low prices, including Judy Garland’s ruby slippers and Scarlett O’Hara’s curtain dress! But I only had eyes for…the time machine! The asking price was just $1300. Still, I was fresh out of college and that was almost half a year’s rent, so I shed a tear and walked away.
I’ve never stopped obsessing over time, but my understanding of it has changed. First of all, I now understand that time travel is real, and that the relentless progression from past to future is only a perception. Time itself simply is. Have you ever heard someone say, “We visited the Grand Canyon, and it was breathtaking”? Why did they say “was”? Has the Grand Canyon ceased to exist? No, their experience of it has, but the Grand Canyon is still there. Humans are like toddlers who think their mothers cease to exist when they leave the room.
Time simply is. If you look at our planet from the moon you can (theoretically) view the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China in one glance, with no time expended in looking from one to the other. Better yet, when you look at the night sky you can see stars that currently exist “alongside” stars that exploded billions of years ago. Furthermore, quantum experiments show that particles can both exist and not exist at the same time, depending on the perspective from which they are viewed. Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Lucern, Switzerland showed particles, travelling faster than light, actually arriving at their destination before they left. In other words: in the past.
So, if space and time are one (and quantum mechanics says they are), then yesterday still exists. The implications are astounding: If the past is still is, then anyone who has ever lived still is. Which means that to exist, even for a moment, is to live forever. Or at least until the next big bang (Isaiah 65:17). Hence, a narrow, destructive life is not just a shame, it’s a stain on eternity. And a generous, humane life is not just noble, it’s an immortal treasure. Because, as it turns out, we really do have all the time in the world.
So let’s make it count.