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)
Deep in our bones, we know that we were created to live forever. It’s why we are drawn to stories like Narnia and Frozen in which death is ultimately a lie.
But we don’t just long to live forever, we also long to be productive forever. Now, we don’t feel like this every day. Sin has made work and our efforts to be productive difficult. But something in our souls (and God’s Word) shows us that work was meant to be very good (see Genesis 1 and 2).
I think we have all caught glimpses of what work must have been like prior to the Fall. You deliver a killer sales pitch and feel completely in your element. Or finish writing a great chapter and can’t wait to share it with your spouse. Or hammer the last nail into a table and step back and admire your creation with healthy pride.
If you’ve experienced even just one of these moments, you know what it feels like to want work like that to last forever. You don’t want it to end because we all know that we were put on this earth to do something—to “make a mark” towards some end. Arthur Miller said it best in Death of a Salesman when he wrote that our desire “to leave a thumbprint somewhere on the world” is a “need greater than hunger or sex or thirst…A need for immortality, and by admitting it, the knowing that one has carefully inscribed one’s name on a cake of ice on a hot July day.”
All of this brings us to the first of five truths we’ll see in this series: Our longing for timelessness is good and God-given. Ecclesiastes 3:11 makes this crystal clear, saying that God has “set eternity in the human heart.” In the words of Jen Wilkin, “God…has given time-bound humans a longing for timelessness.”
This is one of the main themes of the musical Hamilton. Summarizing what he wants out of life, Alexander says, “I wanna build something that’s gonna outlive me.” But Alexander’s wife, Eliza, can’t understand her husband’s need for immortality. She urges her husband to “Just stay alive, that would be enough.”
But we all know that’s not enough. We know that we weren’t created just to stay alive and get through life. Something in our God-designed DNA tells us that we were made for something more. To be human is to work with time that our minds tell us is finite, but that our souls assure us shouldn’t be finite. So why is time finite? That’s the question we’ll answer next week!