Meaning, our earthly beings have only one way to understand life and that is with past, present and future. Time. Our minds and even our souls cannot begin to fathom life without Time to tell us where we are in our journey. We thrive on growth, physical and mental. We relish change and newfound depth of character. Perhaps God does not have Time as we know it. What if He just Is? If yes, then He sees all as One, not as past, present or future. And thus He is not and cannot be the grand puppet master that we oft view Him as. He is not moving us this way and that as He sees fit to progress us through the Time of our lives. He knows all at once. He sees all at once. Omnipotent. Omniscient. Omnipresent. So yes, He knew/knows* what we are going to go through, but He is not planning our trials one day at a time and preparing for us to use our agency so that He may then play His next move. There is no need for Him to plan ahead because there is no “ahead.” For Him, there just “Is.” Does this mean our lives are already foreordained and we have no power to choose? Absolutely not. Because our agency is a product of our mortal Time. Time that He has given us but by which He does not live. Our agency is divine and we choose every moment as mortality passes. God sees all we have chosen – all that we were, are and become – all at once.
“Several scriptures suggest that the way we perceive time on earth may not be the way time really is throughout the universe. Alma 40:8 suggests that only men measure time and that to God all time is as one day. Other scriptures suggest that all things are present before the Lord (see D&C 38:2; Moses 1:6). [D&C] Verses 4–7 in section 130 suggest a similar concept, namely that past, present, and future are continually before the Lord and that time is relative to the planet on which one resides.”
-Doctrine & Covenants Student Manual – Section 130
Consider this: Since God lives without Time and all is “present” to Him, then He gave/gives us His individual promptings and revelations, even His visitations, at once. We remember the Times that he answered our prayers. We read of the Times that he showed Himself unto prophets of old, that He performed miracles. Our ability to connect with Him is in Time, but He connects with all, always – which clearly testifies of His omnipotence. He answered/answers each one of the prayers we offer throughout our lives, at once. “At once” still connotes a concept of Time, but I don’t know any other language to call the state that God lives in. “Present” still connotes Time. “Eternal” is the closest I come to understanding how He lives.
“T.I.M.E – Today Is My Everything” – Richie Norton
Eternity has no beginning or end. Eternity really is that beautiful, oblong figure-eight shape we use as a visual symbol. If there is no beginning or end, then Eternity is Now. Everything is Now. Eternity is not “ahead” of us as our mortal reference depicts. Pre-mortal life is not behind us. The Heavens are not in front of us. It all Is. He Is. “I Am that I Am.” (Exodus 3:14). But our temporal state only allows us to comprehend life in Time. The passing of it. The looking forward to it.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. – Isaiah 41:10
If we can disrupt our finite understanding and try to see from Heaven’s infinite view (and even using the idea of a “view” implies Heaven looks down and watches us as our Time passes), I think we would clearly see that God is not meddling in the middle of all that we do. We cannot give Him blame for the bad that happened yesterday, today or tomorrow. He knows. He Is. He experienced/experiences our agency and the consequences of human choices. He is part of every effort and every moment. But he does not place us like pawns nor plot our repercussions. He has given us both His law and our agency. Our choices plan our future. Our future. Our Eternity. Our Now! If we connect with God during our Now then we clearly see that He has/is always connected with us. And that makes Him all the more Divine and Godly than any other way I could think of Him.
Let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds -D&C 43:34
Since our earthly state is governed by Time, how then could we live mortality as if we were in God’s eternal state? Should we? Need we? Perhaps clearing our view of Time, from time to time, will open unto us the eternal perspective that God holds. And if we catch but a glimpse of His perspective, all of life’s choices and consequences become meaningful. Because we see that He is with us through it all. He is on our right side and on our left, and He even sends angels to us, to bear us up (D&C 84:88).
“Equally complete now is each of our lives before the Lord. We explore them sequentially because we are time-blind. But the Lord, perceiving time as space, sees us as we are, not as we are becoming. We are, for him, beings without time. We are continually before him—the totality of our psyches, personalities, bodies, choices, and behaviors.” (Continually before the Lord, Commissioner’s Lecture Series [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1974], pp. 5–6.)
Much of this is baffling to my finite mind. I think about it, I feel it, I know it, and in the next moment of Time, I don’t understand it. But when I calm my natural mind enough to allow my divine nature to speak, I feel Him near and recognize that He Is. Everywhere. Infinite. Eternal. The Great I Am. And because He Is, I am.
*We do not have a grammatical way to talk of God’s “I Am” tense of being. We have past, present and future tenses. But we do not have an “I Am” language. Thus the past/present use of words in this essay are to remind us that he experiences past, present and future at once.
**Further study in the Doctrine & Covenants Student Manual gives incredible insight regarding Einstein’s Theory of relativity as it relates to this topic of time.