As I stood at Taft Point in Yosemite National Park on my honeymoon with my wife, I pondered God’s creation. I thought about how he knows every molecule of the entire scene and everything that had to happen over perhaps millions of years to make it the way that it is. He literally made it for us, to behold it, and in beholding it, to behold him. I began to have a profound gratitude for what God had done for us, for what he continues to do for us in creating us in all our particular relationships and circumstances. This might sound strange, but I had a similar experience when I first discovered time lapse photography.
At first I didn’t understand it until my wife explained it to me. It is like a prolonged picture, instead of a picture of a moment it is a picture of a longer period of time. Most things in the picture stay the same but the lights that move layer through the open lens, creating a magnificent display. A good example is the picture below that was created by spinning burning steel wool. It struck me that if you look at the light produced by the burning wool in real time it seems insignificant, but if you look at the picture of the layered light it is magnificent.
Then it occurred to me that God sees every moment in time from eternity; he planned every moment and knows them all intimately. And he knows how they all relate and how they all layer next to each other. To see time as God sees it, from a point outside of time, we need to allow ourselves to transcend the current moment by viewing many moments from the perspective of eternity.
In other words, God’s plans do not present themselves to us simply in a moment of time, but rather by an intersection of the eternal moment with a moment of existence that is within time but at the same time unbounded by time. Such a moment is tied to all other moments in time, tied to a continuum of moments, but by being tied with other moments it points by its very nature to a moment outside of time. Every moment asks, “From where did I come?” Every moment is tied inextricably to the next, inextricably to the plan and creation of God that plays out in time but that fundamentally transcends our natural temporal existence.
When life seems so insignificant, when the light we are able to muster seems so small, and when our view of things seems totally imprisoned in an endless struggle, we can take heart that God has a different vision of things. God at times withholds a view of his plans for our welfare. He doesn’t allow us to see our little lights the way he sees them, but instead at times he just keeps whispering to us in what seems like darkness: “I have plans for your welfare,” “I am fighting for you,” and “I am with you.”
God wants us to trust him in what seems like darkness, that he is weaving our little inspired lights into something magnificent, a masterpiece imbued with his own life, a light so blinding that we cannot yet fully see it with our eyes marred by sin. If we stay true to him, trust him, follow him to the Cross, believe in that which we cannot see, God will come to us in those moments that seem to transcend and in those moments that seem not to transcend at all.
Just as he gives us life, he gives us unseen inspiration that shows forth in our souls in a darkness as dark as dark can be and a light so bright that eyes can’t see. This is the Cross, darkness beyond any that has ever been experienced and, at the same time, a blinding light of love revealed in all its glory.
What came to be
through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
— John 1:3-5