I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done (Eccles 3:10-11).
Somewhere in our hearts is something that the world cannot, and did not give us. It is something that is nowhere evident in the world, and yet, though not perceiving it, we still know it. This passage from Ecclesiastes calls it “the timeless.” We also often refer to it as eternity, or even infinity.
But where did this come from? The world is finite. Time on earth is serial. Things have a beginning, a middle, and an end. We do not experience anything here of the timeless. Rather, everything is governed by the steady, unrelenting ticking of the clock. Things begin and end. Every verb we speak is time-based, rooted at some point in time but never able to break free of it. Everything is rooted in chronological time. But somewhere in our hearts we can grasp the timeless. It is hard to put into words for we know it at a very deep level. But, we do know it.
The experience of “forever” does not exist in this world, but it is there in our mind and heart. There is no way to engage in time travel here in this world. Yet instinctively we know that somehow we can. Science fiction and fantasy often feature going back to the past or forward into the future. The world could not possibly teach us this for we are locked into the present and have never actually traveled in time. But somehow we know we can do it.
Eternity comes from the Greek word “aeon,” which means the fullness of time. It is not just a long time, it is all time: past, present, and future all at once. Look at the dot in the center of your watch and notice how 10am may be in the past, 6pm in the future, and 2pm now, but at the center dot they are all really the same. This is aeon; this is eternity, the fullness of time; this is a picture of timelessness.
Where did we get it? The world cannot give it, for the world does not have it. The world is finite, limited; it is time-bound, not timeless. Where did we get it?
Maybe it’s from God.
This song speaks of another aspect of time that the Greeks called “kairos” which is that experience of the fittingness of certain things to certain times. Chronos is the Greek for “clock time” but kairos grasps that other mysterious dimension of time that somehow we know when “the time is right.”