We recently watched the sci-fi drama Interstellar starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chasten, and Michael Caine. (**Spoiler Alert**) Sometime in the not-so-distant future, Earth is on the verge of becoming inhabitable. The human race will die unless someone can figure out how to colonize another planet. In the process of searching for a potential planet to colonize, Matthew McConaughey’s character, Cooper, enters a black hole. Expecting to perish, instead he finds himself in a tesseract. Inside the tesseract, Cooper is somehow on the other side of his daughter’s bedroom bookshelves. He is able to peek through the bookshelf and see different time frames of his daughter’s life in that room. Amazingly, he is also able to cross the space-time continuum and actually cause books to fall off the shelf. Using Morse code, he is able to communicate to her via a wristwatch lying on the bookshelf, a watch he gave her prior to leaving on his space journey. Through Morse code he delivers to her quantum data collected from the black hole. This data provides the solution to a gravitational equation that is the key to successfully saving the human race from extinction.
How does this relate to the eminent author C. S. Lewis and 2 Peter 3.18?
When Cooper is in the tesseract, he is able to see into, and even communicate, with his daughter, at various times through her life. He is able to see history not as a progression of sequential events, but, in essence, all at once. He even sees himself in the room (think Marty McFly seeing himself in Back to the Future II). At first, Cooper thinks that he has been aided by some five-dimensional alien beings which are obviously more intelligent and advanced than humans. Eventually, though, he realizes that it is not aliens, but a more evolved humanity that has learned to master the space-time continuum.
Consider these concepts from Interstellar with what C. S. Lewis wrote back in the 1940s, as found in the book Mere Christianity:
“We tend to assume that the whole universe and God Himself are always moving on from past to future just as we do. But many learned men do not agree with that. It was the Theologians who first started the idea that some things are not in Time at all: later the Philosophers took it over: and now some of the scientists are doing the same.”
Lewis is addressing the very principle on which much of the movie Interstellar is dependent: it is possible to be outside of time as we know and experience it. The difference is that Interstellar envisions a God-less, evolved humanity being the ones who will experience and master the implications of such an eternal view. Lewis, instead, believes God is the One dwelling outside of time. Lewis uses the concept of God hearing and answering prayers as an example of how He stands outside of time:
“His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty – and every other moment from the beginning of the world – is always Present for Him. If you like to put it that way, He has all eternity in which to listen to the split second of the prayer put up by a pilot as his plane crashes in flames.”
How does this impact our prayer lives?
“He has infinite attention to spare for each one of us… You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created.”
Is your brain hurting yet? If Lewis is correct, then his theory enables us also to think about how God seems to be so more patient in dealing with the things we think He should rushing to fix. In other words, it gives us a clue as to why God is sometimes slow to give us the answers to our prayers. After all, as 2 Peter 3.8 says, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
God is awesome and beyond our comprehension! His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways!
Now that I’ve been a Christian for 29 years as well as a pastor for 21 years, I have seen a lot of trends in American Christianity over the past few decades. One of the more disappointing trends has been the amount of hype surrounding certain books, movies, conferences, movements, Bible studies, and, even, “revivals.” I cannot recall how many times a of these various mediums were going to possibly usher in a revival which would transform our nation.
Let me mention a few examples. From each of these examples, God has certainly done a whole lot. People have been saved. Lives have been changed. I do not want to minimize that fact. Praise the Lord for how He used these tools to reach people!
In each of these cases I can recall Christian people enthusiastically suggesting, or hoping, that this particular “thing” would be the catalyst for national revival or spiritual awakening.
(1) 1990… A Bible Study… “Experiencing God” featured the teaching of Henry Blackaby, and consisted of a VHS video series matched with a workbook. The premise of the study is to find out where God is at work and to join Him there. Excellent counsel! But national revival from the study itself? Twenty-five years and counting… not yet.
Many people are familiar with the “Serenity Prayer” in this form:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
But few people know the history or original version of this prayer. Reinhold Neibuhr was an American theologian, who wrote an embryonic form of this prayer in the mid-1930s and developed it to its current form sometime in the early 1940s. It is a prayer that was circulated among U. S. troops during wartime and adopted into popular use among various recovery groups. It is a prayer of trust and surrender to a loving Father who is providentially governing all things.
Here is the prayer in full…
“God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,and the
Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.