Thinking About Time Travel

Time Travel Theories

“I’ve been thinking about time travel.”

My youngest son told me this one day after a not-so-exciting day at work. He also said we should watch all the movies we own that have time travel in them to see the different ways it’s handled.

Of course, I’m all in.

Scientific American says time travel is not ruled out by our current laws of nature.

“According to current physical theory, is it possible for a human being to travel through time?

Perhaps surprisingly, this turns out to be a subtle question. It is not obviously ruled out by our current laws of nature. Recent investigations into this question have provided some evidence that the answer is no, but it has not yet been proven impossible.”

Since it’s not proven impossible, why not understand what may be possible, right? So, I sent my son a graphic outlining the three main theories of time travel.

  1. Fixed timeline as seen in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban.
  2. Dynamic timeline as seen in Back to the Future.
  3. Multiverse as seen in Star Trek (2009).

I apologize if you have not seen these movies, and my examples do nothing to help you understand these theories. Fortunately, not relevant for my main point. What is relevant is the Biblical discussion that took place as a result of our discussion.

Time Travel in the Bible

There are no Biblical accounts of actual time travel as these theories describe. However, the Bible does accounts of time being manipulated by God.

These stories provide a terrific basis for discussing what God can do. They illustrate well the wide expanse of his power. After all, He can manipulate time.

Take some time to read through these accounts. Then find someone who has watched some time travel movies, and have a fun discussion about what’s possible with God.

God’s Perspective on Time Travel

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As established in The Benefits of Time Travel, the kind of time travel we see in the movies or read about in books remains as of today, impossible. However, many people still spend much of their time dwelling in the past or focused on the future. And, unfortunately, they do so at the expense the present.

Isaiah 43:18-19 tells God’s perspective on time travel and gives specific instructions for making the most of the present.

“Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (AMP)

These verses in Isaiah give five pieces of advice on how to balance our past, present and future.

  1. Don’t purposefully or intentionally give serious attention to the past. Earnestness involves purposefulness, intentionality and seriousness. Isaiah directs us to let memories surface and acknowledge them when they do, but avoid lingering in the past and certainly dwelling there on purpose.
  2. Make a point to observe God’s current activity. Isaiah says to “behold,” which means observe, regard, gaze upon, view; watch; discern. In other words, notice the “new thing” God promises to do. So often, we fail to see God’s current activity because of our focus on what happened or on what might happen.
  3. Identify and acknowledge what you observe. Start by observing God’s activity but move on to becoming aware of it to the point of naming it in a way that amplifies His presence. Acknowledging often forces action.
  4. Give careful attention to what He’s doing. Now comes committing because “giving heed” requires focus. No longer can our attention be divided. God’s activity now becomes the center of our thoughts as it gains our “careful attention.”
  5. Get ready to see the impossible happen. Once you see, acknowledge and focus on God’s activity, you gain a sense of direction of where He’s going. You may not know specific details, and His plans likely seem impossible. But never forget that God masterfully authors the impossible.

Time travel stories always express the dire importance of not altering any event in the past because doing so causes severe and unexpected consequences. Just think of yourself disappearing from photographs in your own time if you change the past when you time travel to understand this principle.

In reality, traveling through time in our thinking – dwelling on the past or obsessing about the future – also involves consequences. Namely, we miss out on being happy and doing good (Ecclesiastes 3:12) and on taking hold and making the most of opportunities presented to us (Ephesians 5:16).

Dwelling on the past and obsessing about the future takes our focus off God’s promises. Instead, let the past live as applied present lessons, and allow the future to exist as today’s motivation. Focus on God’s plan for the present and the role He wants you to play as you move toward eternity with Him.

DISCUSSION: What else does the Bible say about God’s view of time that helps us understand how we should view time?

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The Benefits of Time Travel

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Even though time travel Men in Black, Back to the Future and H.G. Wells style only exists in science fiction doesn’t mean it’s impossible. In fact, a recent travel through time brought me significant and much-needed perspective.

The Past

While visiting my dentist, I realized the office remains stuck in the 1980s. While he uses up-to-date equipment for the actual dental work, the office lacks any semblance of modern décor.

The high school office, 1980s style phone sits on the receptionist’s desk next to the cardboard record cards and spiral schedule book. As I sat in the waiting room, I heard her typing on an electric typewriter reminisce of high school typing class. And all of this happens within the walls of a modified 1980s ranch house.

Going to my dentist reminds me of “the good ‘ole days.” It reminds me of pre-internet, actually pre-computer, times when instant access meant using the telephone. Those days involved more face-to-face conversation in what now seems to be a much simpler time.

The Future

After leaving the dentist, I visited my grandma who now lives with my mom. While visiting her brings back fond childhood memories, my potential future grabs my attention. I know genetics only loads the gun and life choices pull the trigger, but I still wonder how much of myself I see when I look at my grandmother and receive only a distant stare and sometimes an irrelevant comment.

Will I someday walk in circles with my hands doing what they did 40 years ago? Are my kids facing a future where they must care for me as I cared for them when they were young? Am I going to one day forget half of my life and only remember bits and pieces that make no sense put together?

The Present

In just one hour, thoughts of the past and my potential future collided in a way that propelled me to actively consider how I got where I am today and where I seem to be headed tomorrow. I needed to note the positives and negatives and consider how both created my current reality and what needs to happen for me live an increasingly deliberate present.

God’s Promises

Knowing the timelessness of God and that He was, is and always will be (Revelation 1:8) brings a sense of purpose to my past and a hope for an abundant future. Studying His promises, which extend through time and still live for you and me to grasp today, creates intense motivation to increasingly know His presence in my present.

Consider Isaiah 43:18-19 and the wisdom it provides for how we should view our past, present and future.

 “Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” (AMP)

These words encourage me to not linger on the past with its mistakes and could-have-beens. They help prevent an obsession with a future that only He knows and that I must simply let Him hold in His hands. And they refocus my present on what He’s doing now and on what He wants me to “give heed.”

In bringing these promises to mind, God re-establishes my heart where He wants it. Thursday’s post,  “God’s Perspective on Time Travel,” takes a deeper look at how to balance our perspectives on our past, present and future.

DISCUSSION: How does reflecting on your past and considering your future impact your present?

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