Advent: December 1

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 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.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil – this is the gift of God.

I know that everything God does will endure for ever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before.

The book Ecclesiastes is a collection of musings and ponderings. We may know the verses that come before those above (“…a time for every purpose under heaven”), which lay out the span of a life and all that we may expect of it.

The chapter continues with a pearl: [God] has set eternity in the human heart. The writer has recognised that deep within us there is something that resonates with the concept of eternity.

We can look out to the stars and see galaxies that are so distant it may take billions of years for the light from them to reach us, and there seems to be no end to it. Look up GN-z11 – if there were a farthest galaxy, what lies beyond? Is the universe infinite in size? Can nothingness be measured?

Eternity is open-ended. There is no start and there is no end. Eternity cannot be measured, because there is nothing to hang the measure on. Yet He who created us placed this enigma in us. Augustine, a fourth/fifth century Christian writer, wrote:

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

The eternity sensor in us is restless. It will be stirred by concepts of infinity and space and resonate with aspects of eternity, yet we’ll never get to the bottom (or the top, or any edge) of it. We cannot see the beginning or the end, or how God has created what we see and do not see. It would confuse our small minds to consider that God spans all eternity already.

What makes you restless?

Father God, let me rest for a moment or two in the truth that you have made me for you. I am special, I am not an unknown in a crowd, I am not a momentary flare of a lit match in space-time. You have created me, and you purpose me. Let me seek earnestly until I find you. Amen.

Who can know?