Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Fourth Dimension: Time

Yesterday, I talked about the third dimension (depth) and how critical it is to living a full life.  But there is one other dimension we commonly consider, and that is the Fourth dimension: time.

It's easy to confuse the Fourth dimension of time with the First dimension of length.  Because we are taught to consider our time here limited with a clear start and finish, stretching the expanse of our lifetime and that is all.  It's what we mean when we talk about time drawing to a close, our lives nearing their end, standing at death's doorstep.  That's not at all what is meant by the Fourth dimension.

Think of the Fourth dimension more in terms of eternity.  It is a concept of time that you wouldn't use to define yourself (I am 27 years old; that is a time definition from the First dimension); it is a concept of time that stretches beyond what we can tick off the clock.  It is more about the value of time than the quantity of it.

God uses Fourth dimension time as an invitation to wisdom.  And in a weird (but perfect) way (as God tends to do things), the Fourth dimension concept of time frees us from the First.  It's all in how we consider it.

The Psalmist wrote: "Teach us to number each of our days so that we may grow in wisdom."  (90:12)  This verse smacks at those who live a 1-D or 2-D life; it runs counter to our flesh that says "Your days are numbered so take all you can get."  But for those who embrace the depth of life in 3-D, this step into the Fourth dimension is absolutely freeing.

(And you must, must, live a life in the Third dimension before you can add the fourth.  You cannot simply throw together the dimensions of your choosing and try to build something out of it - for instance, a life that is only the First and Third dimension would omit the Second (width/height) that is the source of struggle, a crucial element for a meaningful Third dimension.  A life of the Second and Third would be reckless, unconcerned with its own mortality and therefore unable to understand the consequences of choice, which would again render the Third meaningless.  And without the Third (depth), the Fourth (eternity) means nothing.)

Returning to the Psalmist and the invitation of the Fourth dimension to enter is not about having our days numbered; it is about numbering our days.  It is a reminder to make today count and the ever-present knowledge that yesterday is tallied and tomorrow isn't promised but today, there is today, and today matters.

It's not fatalist.  It's not the reckless life of someone without a glimpse of the First dimension who isn't looking ahead to when their life is ending; it's not a life that does as it pleases because it wants to drink of all of today as much as it can.

It is purposeful; it is a life that seeks meaning, that seeks love, because it sees today as a blessing to be poured out.  It is a life that knows its time here is short but sees beyond itself.  Because it sees a new dimension of time - eternity.  And it understands that contrary to what we often fall into believing, eternity does not begin when our time here is finished.  Eternity was, and it is, and it is to come.  A Fourth-dimension life feels blessed just to be a small part of it; a Fourth-dimension life is wisdom.

Teach us to number our days, Lord - to make our days count.  To embrace the depth that brings fullness to life, in beautiful and agonizing ways.  And then to embrace life in the Fourth dimension: beyond time as we can number it and fully into eternity, where meaning and purpose and wisdom beckon.

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