“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift, which is why it is called the present.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
You may have heard or read this quote before. It’s a popular one. There are a lot of quotes about time and, more specifically, about the present moment. It’s something with which we humans are so fascinated. We try to understand time and how it affects us, how to reverse it when we are old, how to speed it up when we are young, how to change it and how to control it. But the truth is we already have it implanted deep within us. In Ecclesiastes King Solomon writes a beautiful phrase that struck me and is more profound than any quote I have ever read about time.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
He has also set eternity in the human heart
What a beautiful gift it is to have eternity inside each one of us. I imagine it like a single drop of water that has the potential for so many things. I actually looked up the journey of a drop of water, and it was fascinating. A single drop of water that is evaporated from the surface of the ocean enters the ecosystem and takes on whatever form the weather and temperature asks of it. It can be taken by the wind, can become part of a cloud, and it can turn into rain where gravity brings it back to earth. It could be a drop of rain on a tree, roll off and sink into the ground to become part of the groundwater and return back to the ocean. Or it could end up in your sink washing your dishes or in a firefighter’s hose putting out a fire. The point is, if a single drop of water could hold such potential for so many different purposes, don’t we harbor so much more potential for a greater purpose given that we have eternity set inside our hearts?
I believe our potential and our purpose is also a part of that eternity. To stick with this water analogy (it is summer after all), let’s imagine a drop of water when it touches the surface. Doesn’t it create a ripple? When does that ripple end? How far does it go? What is the potential for its reach? There’s even a term associated with this. It’s called “the ripple effect.” The definition of this term is “the continuing and spreading results of an event or action.”
“I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.“ (Ecclesiastes 3:14a)
See? God has started the ripple effect even before we knew what it meant or that it even existed. And it’s beautiful. Another king talked about this idea as well. King David writes:
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)
King David actually wrote the phrase “His Love endures forever” 26 times in Psalm 136. God’s love endures, lasts, exists, continues, persists, perseveres, survives, lives, remains, goes on and prevails forever. Forever set inside each human heart. That is quite beautiful and quite meaningful.
So, what do we do with this revelation of forever? The revelation that God has loved us so completely that He has set eternity in our hearts? King Solomon, in all of his wondering and wisdom, discovered this…
“So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?“ (Ecclesiastes 3:22)
Will the ocean see what the drop of water has done in its lifetime? Will it know the impact of its journey? No. It will never know. Just like we will never know the true impact of the lives that we live or the work that we do either. Should that stop us? Should that keep us from sharing our gifts? Cultivating our passions? Loving our neighbor? Finishing that project? Writing that blog? I think the answer to that is also no. The real answer is that each present moment holds within it the opportunity to begin again, to love again, to learn again, to try again, to be bold again, to be quiet again, to stand up again, to sit down again, to end again…because God “has made everything beautiful in its time” and the time is right now.
I have an example to give you, a story about a friend and mentor. My friend’s name was Rob. He was cool and hip and had long hair when he came to my very conservative church. Rob was married to another cool, hip human being, and she was an artist. Her name is Suzanne. Rob and Suzanne made me feel normal as a teenager. They ended up volunteering their time with the church youth group and exposed me to really great music. Rob even “managed” the band that a group of us formed in the youth group. They just gave of themselves and were their authentic selves. This made me feel safe and loved and included and important at such a crucial time in my life. So much of what they poured into me influenced who I became as an adult in almost all of the aspects of my life…musician, mother, wife, friend, Christian, etc. It never mattered if we lost touch. They were a part of me. They had shared their drop of eternity with me. Years later, Rob became very sick. He was on hospice, and I had time in one of my work days to see him every week. I saw him wherever he was, either hospital or home. The staff even got to know me and didn’t even asked questions or stop me when I brought my guitar. I brought all of the songs that he taught me and exposed me to, and I sang to him. It was the very least I could do and, believe me, it felt like the least considering everything he and his wife and poured into me. Rob died on May 4, 2013, but Rob shared the eternity God gave him with me and I poured it right back into him. I know Rob is now inside of eternity itself and in the presence of the One who is eternal. The One who is Love.
So, what do we do with this gift of eternity we are given? Enjoy it. Share it. Let God reside inside of it so that he may direct your journey even though you may never know where it will take you or how it will affect those around you or even what purpose it will fulfill once you’re gone. It’s just important to understand that we are each operating in eternity right now, in the present moment because it is set inside each one of our hearts. Pour it out, and it will create a ripple effect whether or see it or not. Forever is now.
Tori Conicello-Emery is a long-time member of Hope Community Church. She loves to engage in community, spiritual discussions, faith practices and is a dedicated member of the worship team at Hope.