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. Kristina Caton says:

    Thank you for this study- and for all of your insights in the comments. Although I am a little “late” to the study—the timing has been perfect — which isn’t at all ironic—

  2. Ashley Reid says:

    I want to make a list of eternities my heart longs for ❤️

  3. Sharon Seagle says:

    How do I highlight in the app?

    1. Harley JustineNuñez says:

      If you click the verse, it gets underlined with dotted lines. It should pop up a black rectangle with a couple options to highlight and make a note.

    2. Cheryl Shoults says:

      It looks like it only works for scripture, not the commentary part. Which is sad because this is beautifully written and I’d like to highlight too find it more easily again!

  4. BelleV says:

    Ive found myself feeling the same away about SRT.

  5. Kinesha Cox says:

    So amazing.

  6. Ashley P. says:

    This weekend I was talking with my niece and she was reading some surprising facts she found on some site called “today I learned” or something to that effect. She read that there’s some kind of generic code that gives a small fraction of women a fourth cone in their eye—and that gives them the ability to see many more shades of colors than the rest of us can see. It’s incredible! Just considering that made me think it has to be a tiny snippet of what life will be like for us one day—being able to see clearly and a wide spectrum of colors that makes even ordinary things vibrant and beautiful.

  7. Shannon Allbright says:

    I’ve been a Christian my whole life. Went to church every Sunday growing up, and went to a Christian elementary and early middle school. I feel pretty confident in my Biblical knowledge. Yet these SRT studies reveal how absolutely little I know of God’s huge character, still. I’m so thankful that I get a plan that helps me get through these books that I’ve glossed over and never focused on. God is so much bigger than I could ever realize.

    1. Courtney Manasco says:

      Shannon, I was thinking the same thing!! Enjoying SRT soooo much.

  8. Catherine G says:

    Amen!! This reminded me so much of putting my faith into gods hands and HIS timing instead of my timing. I’m reminded of his “knowledge” of all things under the beautiful (but humid!) sun this morning

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *