A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow. But if He knows I am going to do so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise? Well, here once again, the difficulty comes from thinking that God is progressing along the Time-line like us: the only difference being that He can see ahead and we cannot… But supposed God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call ‘tomorrow’ is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call ‘today.’ All the days are “Now’ for Him. He does not remember you doing things yesterday; He simply sees you doing them, because though you have lost yesterday, He has not. He does not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. You never supposed that your actions at this moment were any less free because God knows what you are doing… In a sense, He does not know your action till you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already ‘Now’ for Him (p. 170).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Lewis captures this truth in a conversation between Lucie and Aslan in Prince Caspian of The Chronicles of Narnia series. Aslan was about to leave and Lucie wanted to know when she would see him again. Aslan replied, “Soon.” Lucie wanted him to be more specific and asked when soon would be. Aslan replied, “I call all times soon.”

Personally, I find Lewis’ reference to the past particularly helpful. God does not remember the past (at least not in the sense that we “remember” things); He sees it (very similarly to how we experience the present), because God exists outside of time. This gives me a frame of reference for how differently God experiences time without arousing my fear of being controlled.

God is not a time traveler. He doesn’t need a “flux capacitor” in order to go “back to the future.” God exists outside of time. In that sense, God experiences time like we experience distance at a football game. The athletes on the field are immersed in the game and surprised when someone hits from their blind side. We, the fans, see the play unfold and wince before the hit happens.

This addresses God’s foreknowledge of our freedom (which is Lewis’s subject), not God’s sovereignty or predestination (which is a related but different subject; moves from awareness to influence). But when we realize that God does not experience our past like we do, then we can gain a sense for how God experiences our future differently than we do.

God is omnipresent geographically and chronologically. God is no more bound by time than He is by space. If you can conceive that God is simultaneously present with you and with a Christian on the other side of the globe, then the same principle should be applied to God being fully present in (aware of) your past and your future.

The biggest implication for this truth would be “what if” thinking. “What if” thinking presumes a level of uncertainty based upon the notion that no one has been where we’re going. It is like driving to a place you’ve never been before and being plagued by the question, “What if we missed the turn?” Having a passenger in the car who had taken this journey before changes the experience significantly. Now you can enjoy (peace) the ride (life) and conversation (prayer) as long as you drive responsibly (obedience) knowing that there is no doubt you will certainly reach the desired destination.