THE ETERNAL NOW - PART 1
"And God said to Moses, I AM Who I AM;" and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Exodus 3:14
"Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born I AM." John 8:58
"I AM the bread of life . . ."
"I AM the light of the world . . ."
"I AM the door . . ."
"I AM the good shepherd . . ."
"I AM the resurrection and the life . . ."
"I AM the way, the truth, and the life . . ."
"I AM the true vine . . ."
"As soon then as He had said unto them, I AM, they went backward, and fell to the ground." John 18:6
What's in a Name?
It's very interesting that God uses this name; "I am." We see Moses pressing Him for a name so that he can tell the children of Israel back in Egypt who sent him. But when you think about it, what kind of a name is "I am"? It's not really a name at all, but rather a statement of being. I mean, does God really need a name? The only reason we need names is to distinguish us from everyone else. But there is only one God! Yet some how people think that they can own a piece of Him by calling Him a particular name. It's kind of like all the names we come up with for all our "churches."
Why do we feel like we need to have a name for our church? Obviously, it's so that we can promote it and distinguish our church from all the others. But there is only one church! So why would we need a name? When someone asks me which church I belong to, I tell them that I belong to the church. Of course, the next question is; "Yes, but which one?" Then I proceed to tell them that there is only one.
The Ever Present One
I like the fact that God uses this "I AM" designation. Notice that He does not call Himself "I was" or "I will be," He says "I AM." He is right now. God does not live in time and space. He is not bound by the confines of this physical realm. He lives in a place where there is no past and no future. There is only now. There is only the present. He is the Eternal Now; He is the Eternal I AM.
Knowing this about God helps us to know something about ourselves. Since we are to live in Him, we are to live in that ever present now, that Eternal Now. Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow, but to seek God's kingdom today. God's kingdom is the place where God lives and that place also has this "Eternal Now" quality about it. That kingdom is within us, within our spirits, and there is no time or space there. There is only "Now."
Living in the Moment
Many New Age teachers tell us nowadays that we should live "in the moment." They tell us that we are too "stressed out" and that's because we are so busy regretting (and having guilt over) the past, and planning and worrying (fear) about the future. We totally miss enjoying and living in the present because we dwell in the past or live for the future. They also tell us that we need to learn how to "live in the moment," how to make the most of the time we have right now, today, in fact in this very hour! You know; 'carpe diem,' seize the day, live for today, live in the moment.
Now I agree with the basic tenets of this philosophy. However, it's the method that I disagree with. The idea that we need to enjoy the present moment and not dwell on the past or worry about the future is something that Jesus told us in the Gospels. However, He gave us a totally new, revolutionary way of doing that. His method solved the two major problems that we run into when we try to live the way that the philosophers of the world suggest.
Where is Now?
One of the problems is the fact that working hard at living "in the moment" just becomes another point of stress in our lives! We are trying to relieve the stress by enjoying today, however, now we have to learn a new skill; living "in the moment!" That just serves to add more stress into our lives especially when we fail and then feel guilty about our failure! Now we are once again caught in the trap of regretting the past and worrying about the future. Now, we worry about how we are going to handle our next opportunity to live "in the moment!"
The second problem we have is actually an explanation for the first problem. Is it even possible to totally live in the now? As creatures trapped within this cage we call "time," is it even possible to truly experience the now? Please bear with me here. I really am not trying to wax philosophical or even scientific here. But let's take a look at this idea of "the present" for a brief moment. My question is this; is there such a thing as the true "now" or "present?" We could say that the concept is that the present is the gap of time between the future and the past. Would you not agree with that? The question is -- does such a gap even exist? Isn't it true that the moment the future comes to us, it has become the past? Let me illustrate.
When I speak the word "present," the moment that I speak it, it has become part of the past. This is a good example because I can think the word before I speak it. Just to illustrate, we could say that when we think of the word we know it is going to happen "in the future." Obviously, we think the word "present" before we actually speak it. However, the moment we speak it, the word enters into the past.
Let's imagine for a moment that past and future are two adjoining rooms. Past is a room and Future is a connecting room. The only thing separating the two rooms is a doorway. Segments of time pass from one room to the other with very little (if any) time in between. You can (mentally or emotionally) live in one room or the other; however, you cannot live in the doorway. There just isn't enough "room" there!
Is There an Escape from Time?
So we could accurately say that within the confines of time, there really is no true "present" or "now" as far as we are concerned. If the "present" does exist within time (which I don't think it does), then it is definitely too small a space for us to live in because it is only the portal between past and future.
So where do we find the true "now?" Is there any escape from this prison of past/future dichotomy within which we live? Is it possible to enter into a third "dimension" that we normally call "the present" or "the now?" Could such a place exist where the chains of past and future no longer have any hold on us? Could such a place of unbridled freedom really exist?
The Kingdom Within
Yes, this place does definitely exist and the Lord Jesus spent most of his time here on earth trying to tell us about it. However, this place does not exist within time at all! It exists outside of space and time and inside of the One who called Himself; "I AM."
In our next article we will take a closer look at this place and how we can enter into it.