Time is such a precious commodity. Children anticipating some wonderful future event discover it to pass way too slow. Adults know it to be the opposite, increasing in velocity with each passing year. A recent conversation on another blog circled around the nature of time as they pursued the question of universal salvation. The problem is always one of coming to an understanding of what it means to say that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, what it means to confess Jesus as Lord and whether there is any human time limit to when that confession must be made. It reminded me of an old Jim Croce song:
If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that Id like to do
Is to save every day
Till eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you
If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
Id save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you
Grasping time seems to lie just beyond our reach, and when it finally comes, it slips through our tightly held fingers never to be retrieved or redeemed by our own effort. Saving time in a bottle is, after all, just wishful thinking suitable for romantic songs.
At least that is true from a human point of view, but it seems to me that the birth, life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus demonstrate that from God’s point of view none of that is true. It’s not, I believe, that in God’s presence there is no time, but that in God time is fungible, elastic, multidirectional, multidimensional. The mystery of it is enormous, and we must be extremely cautious about making salvation seem like a limited time television offer with operators standing by to receive our urgent call at 1-800 JESUS SAVES.
I think something like that is what C.S. Lewis was driving at in his classic little book The Great Divorce where those long dead and existing in hell always had a chance to go to heaven but chose to turn away, even after having taken a brief “fam” trip to see what it was like.