As you know, it’s Time Travel Week at bradhuebert.com.

On Monday I explained that time travel is normal; our minds “travel” to past and future all the time. Next, I introduced the Five Indispensable Axioms of Time Travel, the guiding principles of time travel that we ignore to our peril. Yesterday I unpacked the first three axioms. Today, I’ll tackle #4.

AXIOM #4: Choose your guides wisely.

We’ve already seen how critical our mental time traveling can be. Yesterday we learned that a huge chunk of our present experience is really a product of the souvenir effect (emotional baggage we bring back with us when we time travel). With that in mind, I think it goes without saying that we need to be careful who we travel with.

  • In Back to the Future, Marty McFly came within a hair of erasing his entire existence by time traveling with a slightly mad scientist.
  • In A Sound of Thunder, time travel tourists nearly destroy humanity by time traveling under the auspices of a greedy corporation.

“Oh,” you say, chuckling smugly. “I’m not traveling with anyone. I’m all by myself there in my head. No worries.” But remember The Time Machine? Alexander Hartdegen travels through time all by himself and gets stuck 800,000 years in the future. Oops. Wouldn’t want to do that, either.

We tend to think of our mental journeys as being entirely our own. The truth is, our thoughts—and our time travels—are being influenced almost continuously. Our friends, family, and co-workers influence our travels quite innocently:

  • “Hey, you wanna go see Avengers next Tuesday?” This invites you to travel into the future to think about your schedule.
  • “How did your coffee with Bob turn out?” This invites you to travel into the past to review a conversation.
  • “Where did you leave the keys?” This also invites you to travel into the past to replay what you did and where you may have put them down.

But flesh and blood folks aren’t the only ones trying to influence why and where we time travel. Jesus says, “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that you may have life, and life to the full” (John 10:10). We’ve already seen how much power time travel has over our present experience. Both God and the devil know the quality of your present world is shaped by why you time travel, where you end up, and what you drag back with you when you return.

Let’s say your boss tore a strip off you last week. Satan tempts you to time travel back to that moment to re-live it, to nurse your wounds. This stirs up anger, which you bring back to the present moment. Before you know it you’re off into the future, imagining your next conversation and all the brilliant things you’re going to say to put him in his place. More anger. The why driving the time travel is bitterness, insecurity. Which determines what you bring back. More of the same.

If you go with Jesus, he’ll take you back into that painful experience too—so that you can forgive your boss and be released from the humiliation and anger. When you come back to the present, all you feel is peace. You venture into the future, praying for your next encounter and asking God to give you wisdom when it comes. The why driving this time travel is grace and a desire to move on. And so you do.

Axiom #4 is critical, because like it or not, you’re being guided. So choose—and reject—your guides wisely. If you sense a less than helpful time travel lapse happening, stop yourself. And switch guides, inviting Jesus to take over.

He’s really good at this, being the Truth and all.

Tomorrow we’ll finish off with AXIOM #5: Don’t Get Stuck

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