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 (90)

90 thoughts on "The Mystery of Time"

  1. Makenzie Benish says:

    I love the glimpses God gives us of what he has in store for us in eternity. Thankful he thought of the little things to make us smile and remember that this is not our home, but he still wanted us to be happy and wanted to give us tiny gifts, even here. What is waiting for us on the other side is indescribable, I’m sure!

  2. Theodora Ana Lizama says:

    there is a time for everything! so very fitting with the times, indeed!

  3. Alice R says:

    Hey Sarah d. Don’t you see? God is already using you. You are demonstrating a faith beyond understanding and choices that don’t line up with worldly choices. (Being in the world but not of the world) … your sister is seeing your choices and they are making her uncomfortable. My prayer is that they keep making her uncomfortable and that the Holy Spirit would prompt her to ask ‘why?’ Bless You!

  4. Megan Herren says:

    I used to think about eternity and be triggered with anxiety. Finally, I’m at a place where it gives me an overwhelming sense of peace. I’m finally getting on track spiritually and learning who Jesus really is and it’s so comforting to read that eternity is in my heart and have a smile on my face rather than a panic attack. Thank you Jesus.

  5. Nicole Green says:

    This is such an interesting time in society and these scriptures are so on point with what’s going on in our world. There is a time for everything, but in everything there is God. He is the author and finisher of our faith. I’m so blessed by this devotional.

    1. Kathleen Spearman says:

      Yes! Especially the “a time to Embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” that really got to me.

    2. Amy Rogers says:

      I love how His timing is so perfect. He knew we would be experiencing this at this exact moment in time and He continues to show Himself! So amazing! And these God-ordained revelations at just the right time continue to build my faith! Praise God!

  6. Stacie Tyson says:

    Wow, I absolutely love the idea of God placing eternity in our hearts. What an amazing thought!

  7. Kiva Smith says:

    I am so loving this chapter study. It is putting a lot of things in perspective for me

  8. Kimberly Strunk says:

    Whenever I think about eternity, it puts my mind and heart at ease. No matter what we face in life, we have eternity with Jesus. That’s the promise to always hold on to. Problems and sufferings diminish at the thought of the promise of eternity. Thank you Jesus.

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