A friend of mine got caught doing something horrible in October. Three months later, in January, he and his wife got into an argument about it. He tried to describe the situation as something “that happened last year.” That, was a stupid thing to do, but I understand why he did it.
He, like me and many other Christians, bought into the idea that “time heals all wounds.” He was opening up his calendar and putting a timeframe on redemption. He was assigning power and promise to weeks and months. Hoping that if he stacked up days up like bandages, his wife would forgive him.
But the past is seductive. When I look back in the rear view mirror, it’s constantly swelling its chest, appearing more important than it is, adding details to memories, hiding others in the shadows, recreating what really happened. I like to think that my memories are documentaries, full of fact and truth, but they’re more like summer blockbusters. Full of special effects and illusions.
I don’t think God looks at time like we do. I think he looks at it like a four-year old.
My four-year old daughter believes everything she’s ever done happened yesterday. There’s no delineation between last week, last month or last year. All activities are placed securely in her large “yesterday bucket.”
“Remember yesterday when we went to the zoo?”
“My birthday was yesterday.”
“Yesterday, that mean boy pushed me down on the playground.”
I used to think this approach to time framing her life was adorable. She only has the now and the yesterday and sees little use for anything else. But in the last few months I’ve started to believe that’s how God sees things too. When he looks at my life, he doesn’t use the same labels that I’ve forced on his creation of time. He doesn’t see something I did wrong last week as any different from a mistake I made a year ago. He sees yesterday and today. And yesterday, whether it was something from 10 years ago or 10 minutes ago is long gone in his mind.
Christ explains God’s view of time within the conversation the father has with the older brother in the story of the prodigal son.
‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.
”‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”
The older brother tries to use the calendar as justification for his anger. He says, “all these years” and puts a timeframe on his obedience. But the father doesn’t even consider the years his older son has stayed with him or the amount of time the younger son spent on the run. For him it’s much simpler. There are only two conditions, dead or alive, lost or found. There is no need to wait for time to heal any wounds or to weigh out time gone versus time obedient. The rescued has occurred, the key moment has happened.
No calendar cannot change that.
Time cannot offer that kind of healing.
You were dead and are alive again.
You are found.