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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20 thoughts on “The Benefits of Time Travel

  1. I look back often with regret for missed opportunities, poor financial decisions, and just general mess-ups. I look at the future and wonder: will I die early from cancer like my mom or will I keep going? Will my genetic arthritis catch up to me or will my joints stay "alive?" Will I get to see my grandson graduate from high school (he is 6)? So many questions I have no answer for. What I can answer is that I choose today to live my life to the fullest, giving it all to Him in service to others (while keeping a bit of it for myself). And for the record: Back to the Future is THE best movie…ever…time travel or not. 🙂

    • Sometimes I focus too much in the past or future too. It's the dwelling there that gets us in trouble. We need to deliberately choose to focus on today, what God is doing and what He wants us to do for Him. This needs to be a conscious decision; otherwise, we can get swept into a dangerous time travel journey. If we're throwing ALL movies out there regardless of a time travel element, I have to say that Lord of the Rings is the best ever, sorry 🙂

  2. I find looking at the past helpful when I take the time to see significant events through God's eyes. I've sometimes found truth journaling past events very powerful in changing how I operate in the present. I'm trying to develop the habit of planning more with the future in mind – this will help me get more work done in the present.

    • Looking at the past is definitely helpful, Barb. In fact, I am doing that for a book I've started to write. Journaling helps me tremendously too, both with reviewing the past and its application to my present as well as planning my present with an eye on the future. More and more, I am learning to be less controlling in my planning. The Holy Spirit is working on me a lot in that area these days.

  3. Ps 90.12 jumped into my mind as I read your post – "Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts."Then in v 14…"Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days." (whatever that number may be). Our past has a purpose but is behind us, the future is in God's hands and He alone knows the number we will have in this life; the present morning is our only gift from God to choose how we may walk in this life, hopefully cherishing what we have been given and to hope for what lies yet ahead.

    At my age I recognize this fact there are more memories of my past than what will yet come in the days to yet come, but I cherish each new day more than I did yesterday. Thanks Kari!

    • Good stuff, Coach, and great scripture application to this topic. Even more powerful, though, is your personal testimony that “I recognize the fact there are more memories of my past than what will yet come in the days to yet come.” That’s a lesson that we need to take to heart, whatever stage of life, and illustrates so well why I am a strong believer in all ages interacting and fellowshipping together. We have so much perspective to gain from one another. Thank you for that.

  4. I know sometimes it seems like it is all we can do is to deal with the present. I do know it is good to think about the past and try to learn from it. From both the good and the bad. We should ask ourselves questions that would help us evaluate things that went well and those that did not to learn from them and to better respond in the future. To think of the future I think helps us to plan our days. We should ask where we want to be and then ask what do we have to do to get there. Be it in a spiritual sense or other goals we want to attain. I know it helps us to live with a purpose and to live with a determined, intentioned plan.

    • You're absolutely right, Mark. Learn from the past and its lessons as well as enjoy its memories. Use the future as a catalyst for the present. But we can't dwell in either place because we dwell in the present. Mindfulness of the past and future is perhaps a good way to say it. Regardless of the word used, being purposeful, determined and intentional are essential to living.

  5. I look in the mirror and I see my mom looking back! That can be scary, even though she lived to be in her 90’s. I know she is now with the Lord and someday I will be there also. That is the good thing. When I look back I can see God’s faithfulness when times were tough and that gives me courage and hope for today and the future, because I know HE sees the whole picture while I can only see a small part. So yes, it is a choice to live this day in faith, believing that our future is not determined by our past mistakes or successes. God is at work and if we chose to allow Him to work in us we are made new each day. What a give this moment is…a true PRESENT..

    • Yes, He does see the whole picture, and I'm so thankful, especially when a day feels like a continual struggle. Knowing my past does not define me brings tremendous freedom, and that's the beauty of knowing Christ. I love how He makes every day new. I'm ready for a new day tomorrow!

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  7. I see this too as I look at my children and look at my parents (and grandmother). Thankfully, my grandmother is 90-something and still pretty sharp. My parents have made poor health decisions but are still doing OK. And looking at my kids – it just reminds me of the innocence of youth when playing was just what you did all day.
    It does give me a zoomed-out picture of life, making me realize how fast it goes by.

    • I think it's wise and healthy to look across generations like this. Keeps us aware of how precious time is and how we need to make the most of it and not waste it. For me, it also provides motivation to try and prevent some things that genetics might pre-dispose me to. I'm very motivated by that. Kind of like learning from someone else's mistakes.

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