Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heute und die Ewigkeit (Today and Eternity)

Life is funny sometimes. Not in the “haha” laughing sort of funny way, but in the “hmmm, let me stop and think about that for a moment” sort of funny. This semester in Graz has been chalk-full of laughably funny moments—too many for me to count, in fact—but it’s also had its fair share of the other kind. Right now for me is one of those moments.

The clock is ticking, as my time here in Graz swiftly grows shorter. And while I have definitely been doing everything I can to pack in as many fun memories as possible (like hiding under benches to avoid being soaked while watching the Italy game, hanging out until 12:45 a.m. at Stammtisch, dancing ridiculously at the Neubaugasse basement party, hosting an international dessert night, cheering on Australia in their game against Ghana, running as hard as I could 1.36 miles uphill at the Kleeblattlauf, and partying it up all night long at the 26th USI-Sportfest, which is the largest student-run party in Europe, in case you were wondering), I’ve also taken some time to stop at think about things. Honestly, I would rather not ponder what is happening; it makes me too sad. But at the same time, part of me knows that it’s necessary, that I need to do this. Does that make any sense?

So I started thinking today about this semester in Graz and how unbelievably incredible it has been. I’ve been trying so hard to hold onto it, doing everything in my power to not let it go. But life doesn’t work like that, unfortunately, and things are finite on this side of heaven. I was really struggling with this last week (well, since February 1st when I arrived, to be entirely honest), and then I came across this quote by C.S. Lewis from his book The Screwtape Letters. (Note on this text: The Screwtape Letters is a fictional correspondence between two demons. Therefore, the “Enemy” referenced here is actually God. Don’t worry, it confused me at first glance too ;) :

"The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity[…] He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity or with the Present.”

That’s kind of a weighty quote, so let me break it down. Basically, God wants us to focus solely on eternity (during which, if you are a believer in Jesus as your Savior, you will be with God in the most perfect of places) and with the present, aka where we are right now. Not with the past; that’s over and done with. And not with the future, at least not until it becomes the present. ;) And then it’s not the future anymore, is it?

I just got off the phone with my little sister Weasel. (In case you don’t know this, I have two younger sisters. They are 18-year-old twins, and they are waaaaaaaaaaaay cooler than I am. As in, I want to be like them when I grow up. Just saying. Oh, and their actual names are Anneliese and Kirsten, but everyone, and I mean EVERYONE calls them “Weasel” and “Rascal.” And I just get called “Steffi.”How boring). Anyway, Weasel and Rascal just got back from two weeks at Kanakuk, which is the Christian sports camp where I worked for the last two summers. (I was a camper for nine years before that, so this is my first summer since I was ten years old that I haven’t been at Kanakuk. Krazy.)

Anyway, the twins both filled me in on the adventures of Kamp, how much fun they had, and all they had learned. Then Weasel got back on the line and said she had something special to tell me. On one of the days, the director of the camp had a question-and-answer session with the older campers; the kids could ask whatever they wanted, about life, love, God—you name it—and then the director would try to answer. One of the campers asked the question that has been on my mind a lot lately (and by “a lot lately” I actually mean “almost constantly”):

What is God’s purpose for our lives?

I’ve heard a lot of different answers to this question. None of them seem to quite satisfy me, though, maybe because they all have been super theological, and I’m just not quite smart enough to grasp them. This one, however, was not only on my level (which is that of an eight-year-old), but it also clicked. Curious? Read on…

“Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, that is God’s purpose for you. God wants us to live in the present, serving Him wholeheartedly with whatever we are doing. And when choices come our way and we have to decide what to do, it’s not a matter of “right and wrong,” rather “right and left.” Whatever we choose to do, God will use it for His glory. And if He wants us to go the other direction, He’ll get us there somehow. The point is to live in the moment—seeking after Him alone. If we do that, He will take care of the rest.”

If I’ve learned anything these last few months in Graz (and trust me, I’ve learned A LOT… just not necessarily school-related things), it’s how to live in the moment, just like the C.S. Lewis quote and the answer to the camper’s question. Today is all we have been given; tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. All we can do is live, right here and right now. And that’s exactly what God has been teaching me to do, one unbelievably incredible day at a time.

I know this has been a very quote-heavy blog post, but I’d like to add one more for good measure. This is one of my absolute favorite quotes of all time shared with me by my best friend of all time. It’s from Jim Elliot, the missionary who was killed by natives in Ecuador in the 1950s. This quote has become one of my life mottos. Here it is:

“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

That is my prayer for you today. Be all there. And live it to the hilt.

God bless. And thanks for reading.

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