Day 4

The Mystery of Time

from the Ecclesiastes reading plan


Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, John 16:25-33, 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

BY Bailey Gillespie

There’s a word in the German language, sehnsucht, that C.S. Lewis popularized in his book Surprised by Joy. Sehnsucht refers to the yearning and longing our human hearts feel for more, for an unnamed place or the fulfillment of desires that cannot be quenched in this world alone. This Romantic concept was key to Lewis’s eventual belief in Christianity. He often encountered everyday things that evoked this pang of longing, like the smell of a bonfire or the sound of ocean waves, and filled him with an insatiable desire for more that he couldn’t quite explain. It was really the truth behind Ecclesiastes 3:11 that seized him: God has put eternity in our hearts.

Think about that for a moment. Even taking into account what we do know, eternity is a bit of a mystery, isn’t it? From the Old Testament to Revelation, Scripture gives us clues, like tracks in the woods, but not enough to form a complete understanding.

In Scripture, the word eternity refers to the mind-bending truth that God has no beginning and no end, but it can also be used as shorthand for our future life with God—in heaven or in the coming kingdom. We will have the life of God, eternal by its very nature.

But in the same breath, the author also says that “no one can discover the work God has done from beginning to end” (v.11). This statement has always been a little confusing for me. If God put eternity in our hearts, why does He place limitations on our discovery? I want my longing to generate endless insight about what God is up to. Instead, I’m told “no one can discover” what God has done, at least not the full scope of it. There is knowledge He has reserved for His own purposes, which “no eye has seen” and “no human heart has conceived” (1Corinthians 2:9). And so our response to Him must be one of faith.

Although there isn’t anything particularly special about bonfire smoke or sea salt, there are things in this life that catch our attention and draw us toward heaven. For you, it may be the feel of your baby’s hair. For another, maybe the taste of raspberry jam. Whatever it is, Scripture tells us that God has built eternity into the fabric of our hearts and that all creation declares His glory.

But it is still a mystery. God gives us some knowledge, but not enough to discover His full and perfect plan. So, as Christians, we acknowledge that, even if we don’t fully understand what eternity will be like or how time works in the kingdom of God, by faith we believe that God places this longing in us so that we seek and find Him. We pay attention to this “inner knowing” and choose to trust what God has revealed. What we see is not all there is. One day, the veil will be pulled back. Eternity is coming.

Until then, we have crackling bonfires and ocean waves to remind us.

Post Comments (91)

91 thoughts on "The Mystery of Time"

  1. Sarah D. says:

    Hey SRT fam, prayer request please. I was texting with my sister yesterday and it seems like she is concerned that things will be tough for me after college because I am “limiting” myself to one area of thinking and not considering the aspects of the “real world” . It makes me really mad because it sounds like she thinks I am uneducated or have not been acquainted with the “real world”, which is very very false. Unfortunately I feel that she and her husband are not strong Christians or Christians at all, because she started this by asking if I always watch shows about “religion”. If she truly knew what a relationship with Jesus is like, she would not be worried for me. In fact, I have come to a place where I’m not worried what happens after college BECAUSE I surrender my worries and doubts to Jesus. HE is the one who has kept me grounded all these years, throughout the many hardships I have faced, and I have full assurance he will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Please please pray for my sister Amy and her husband Chris, that they would not believe Satan’s lies and would come to a place where they long to know the real love of Jesus. Please pray for wisdom for me in what I say to her, that if God wants to use me, he will use me to show his love and share his good news to them. That God would rip the smokescreen that is in front of their eyes to see what they have been missing all along. Thank you all. I know prayer is powerful, and I will be praying every day. Love you all.

    1. Makenzie Benish says:

      Praying for you and your sister Sarah!!

    2. Jane K says:

      I’ll be praying for Amy and Chris too!

  2. DOROTHY says:

    So this will probably date me, but as I was reading the scripture from Ecclesiastes to a song from my childhood starting going through my head. The song is titled, “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Birds. Then when I finished reading the devotion and read Baiey “One day, the veil will be pulled back. Eternity is coming.” it brought to mind the song “One Day” by Cochren & Co. I guess my mind is straying to music today, which for me is a good thing right now. Lately I’ve been down so anything that will bring happiness, joy and rejoicing, like music, I will take.

    1. Linda G says:

      I had that Byrds’ tune going through my head as I read just now. You’re not alone in being “dated”. :)

  3. Ellis Barker says:

    i loved the fact that it was said things like ocean waves, smell of the bonfire, raspberry jam; anything that evokes a feeling of longing in us, gives us a hope for eternity!!

  4. Amanda Robinson says:

    Draw me closer to God! Have a wonder-filled stand-in-awe of the Lord kind of day, sweet ladies!

  5. Amanda Robinson says:

    Mountains, waking up to the Lord’s majestic creation after a night of camping, belly laughs with friends, the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, the smile and laughter of a child—these are the things that draw me

  6. Margaret Lindsey says:

    Sometimes these are called contemplative moments… when the beauty or the experience causes you to yearn for more. A beautiful sunset, a well-played concerto under the stars, the Milky Way, the striking color of a hydrangea, the sun hitting the clouds. These remind me of the transcendent and that someday these fleeting moments will never end. Glory to God!

  7. Brandy Yell says:

    I love the mystery !!

  8. C says:

    As we go through the seasons of life, we are reminded that life is fleeting. We are bound by time (God’s time) but God is eternal and timeless. Life on earth is but a vapour.

    But we have the confidence and assurance though that God makes all things beautiful in His time. Whether it’s a season of singleness, barrenness, Covid-19, God works out everything for our good. And maybe Covid-19 is giving us the time to pause, reflect and spend time with God. 

    He has set eternity into our hearts and as we go through life, there are things or events to remind us that this world is not our home. They make us remember that our longings will be fully met when we reunite with God in the new heaven and new earth. 

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