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 (86)

86 thoughts on "The Mystery of Time"

  1. Ashley White says:

    This is beautiful and speaks so much truth ❤️

  2. Sharon W says:

    This is so so good Father God.

  3. Diana Fleenor says:

    SARAH D: I’ve been on a similar journey with my sister. She has often expressed a belief that my passion for Jesus is pathological. There is a kind of materialistic worldview that seems to drive her heart and actions. I admit it’s been a challenge for me to stay on course because there has been a desire in my heart to be accepted by her. However, there is gratitude that flows from now having a better understanding of how the Lord is using this relationship with my sister to first wean me off of any idolatrous desires for my relationship with my sister and then to move into interactions with her praying the Lord uses the witness of his steadfast love in me to perhaps drawn her to repentance. It’s not my words which will open her eyes, but the Holy Spirit moving through me (or others) as we sow the seeds and water them. It is God who grows them. I pray for both of our sisters to receive the mercy of God that is what they truly need to be saved and changed — just like us! Blessings to you.

  4. Katie Wiet says:

    “Forever is written in our souls; a desire for something permanent is woven into our DNA. The result is a desperate longing for the One who has remained the same for all eternity.” She Reads Truth Bible

  5. Paula JeanShelby says:

    The beach is my place! I was there a few days ago. It makes me feel closer to Jesus and just feel His presence. I love a good bon fire too. Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain that I cant control

  6. Julie Vose says:

    This really spoke to me today! Thank you!

  7. Devine Muniz says:

    I just quit my six figure job. I really prayed hard over this decision and concluded I can have all the money in the world and if I am not the best version of me I’m not the best for my kids and husband Money will come and go however the seeds I’m planting with my kids will have a generational impact. This book is right on time and is breathing life into me each day.

    1. Jen Schmidt says:

      Hi Devine, I just want to encourage you and affirm your decision. 3 years ago my husband and I left our good jobs, big house and nice cars for a 1/4 of the income to follow where we knew the Lord was taking us. We have NEVER looked back and have also NEVER known such joy as we do now!! The Lord is so faithful and will bless your path! Praying you are blessed abundantly in this new season!

    2. Allison Reed says:

      I am currently in a similar situation! I make more money than I could have ever dreamed but have felt the tugging for a while to walk away from it so I can invest more in my family and others. I’m currently taking a 3 month sabbatical to test the waters. Your experience is so encouraging. Thanks for sharing!

    3. Chandi Jackson says:

      I walked away from a high paying job as well and now I get to use my graduate degrees to homeschool my children! It’s a blessing that we were able to make this choice, though at times my ego suffers and I feel “not enough”. I love watching God’s plan for us unfold though – it’s full of exciting surprises. I love that he placed eternity in our hearts – I feel the lightness of that so often.

  8. Yolanda Harbon says:

    What a beautiful reminder that there is MORE! God has given us nature to hint at eternity. How incredibly special ❤️

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