403 Words About the Nature of Time

Years ago, a professor picked up a piece of chalk — Yes, chalk. You can Google it kids — and he drew a sharp, straight line across the entire width of the board. To the left of the line he scribbled: “past.” Somewhere on the middle of the line was a sloppy x, above which he wrote: “present.” Then, over to the right of the line, he scrawled: “future.” 

“This is time as we experience it,” he said. “It only goes in one direction. We move from past to present, to future. We can’t go back.” 

Above the line, in one swift motion, he wrote the Greek letter Θ. In Greek, the language of the New Testament, God is θεός or Theos, so God is often abbreviated using the shorthand Θ. 

Then he tapped the chalk against the theta and said, slowly and dramatically.

 “God…. God… God is here. Outside of time. God is not bound by time. God sees the past present and future at the same time. God does not exist within time.” 

I don’t remember anything else from that entire class, but I’ve been thinking about that idea and that moment ever since.  It was the first time in my adult life that I deeply considered the idea that time is a construct and a restraint by which we are bound.

If God is outside of time, maybe we can pray for something we need and God can go back and fix it in the past. If God is outside of time absolutely anything is possible. I had and still have so many questions.  Is God redeeming the past as well as the present and the future? Is this what people mean when they talk about the multiverse? Is this the secret to everything? Will we, humans, ever figure out how to unlock time? 

That one moment with the line and the floating theta did more for the depth of my theological imagination than any other lecture, book, or writing had before or since. This concept became something I could wonder about, any time I wanted to, and I do. I am never bored now, because I have this idea with me. The idea that God is outside of time is like a friend to me. I think about it whenever I need to hope, or dream, or imagine, or pray.

It means anything is possible. It means everything is possible. 

Share Our Content

Stay Connected

More Articles of Interest

Prayer Candle Craft and Activity

This simple prayer candle idea is one I got from my friend Laura Alary. She taught it to me when discussing her new book Breathe: A