Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In Light of Eternity...

There are some mornings I wish I had a "re-start" button to push. I'd just need to use it six times a year, maybe seven. I had one of those mornings today; one of those mornings where it seems as if the universe was conspiring against me, determined to make me miserable. When so many things go wrong in one morning, there always seems to be a point when all I can do is shake my head and laugh. On these days I find myself saying, "ahhhhh ma-an" and "seriously???" quite often as all the little obnoxious obstacles to my joy continue to repeatedly rain down. Once I hurdle over one, I'm met with yet another, then another, then another and after about 3 or 4 jumps, I laugh and say, "Seriously?" to no one in particular.

It started when I woke from a night plagued by fretful nightmares. Not the kind with witches and flying monkeys that strangle puppies; the kind that are freakishly realistic. Disturbingly so. The kind that make you wake up feeling unsettled and upset but unsure why.

I rolled out of bed and was reminded of my pinched nerve as I yelped and fell to the floor. Seriously? Then, when I went to sit on our freezing cold toilet seat, I was suddenly made aware of either a giant boil or a huge spider bite, either way, it is painful. Too much information? Probably, but you need to get the full picture. After getting ready, I reached for my favorite coat only to notice a significant tear running across the back of it. Seriously? So I opted for my not-as-cute coat and headed out the door.

I reached the garage and remembered that my poor Jetta almost exploded yesterday. When I accelerate, she is so loud that pedestrians turn and gawk, making me feel surprisingly self-conscious. I cancelled our practice today so I could bring her in to get checked out. Not wanting to risk breaking down on the way to school, I hopped on my bike. Of course she had two flat tires so by the time I got to school, I was sweating and my thighs were burning. Seriously?

As I limped to my classroom, computer under my arm and sweat coming through my cardigan, I passed a teacher who said, "Hey Katie. Wow, are you okay?" I laughed. Apparently there was no hiding my rough morning. I checked my school e-mail and had a number of frustrating e-mails to respond to and a number of frustrating parents to deal with. Seriously?

I had rolled my eyes quite a bit and said, "seriously?" so much I was annoying myself and it wasn't even 8 AM yet. However, things turned around at 9. Oh, don't get me wrong, several more obstacles came my way. But these little obstacles seemed like tiny hurdles after this morning's chapel. Because this morning I met with Jesus and was reminded of eternity, so the annoying parts of life that seemed to pile high a few moments before, seemed suddenly insignificant.

Nathan Tasker performed during chapel. He's a singer from Australia and he's fabulous. Maybe it's the accent or something in the water, but it seems that all Aussies must, by nature, be abnormally fit and exceedingly good-looking and cool. Have you ever met an ugly Aussie? Me neither. Why is that? Nathan is no exception but it was his lyrics that would transform my morning, not his good looks or cool accent. His songs made me forget about my crud-filled morning and brought me into the throne room of the king.

He told the story of a homeless man in Sydney many years ago who had become a Christian. He wanted to share the good news but didn't know how, so he got a piece of chalk and simply wrote the word "eternity" on the streets of Sydney. He did this for 30 years, completely anonymous and then he died. It is estimated that he wrote "eternity" half a million times. With one word he tried to remind his city that there was more to this life than the here and now. Nathan wrote a song about this man and beautifully explained that we all, believers or not, long for eternity. We all know that in the midst of our worst moments, it wasn't supposed to be like this. And in the midst of our best moments, there could be better. We know in our hearts that we're made for more; that this earth is not all there is. Here is the chorus of his song entitled, "eternity"

Can you hear it now
ringing out across the city
hear the sound
like a symphony
It's crying out
in every single heart that's beating

Then he told the story of his father-in-law who is on this deathbed. This man, so near to death, speaks of death in a powerful way. He says that he is going home. I've heard that expression used so often but today I was reminded again that we truly are strangers here on earth, just passing through. Our home is elsewhere. When I forget that, I worry about things like my favorite coat being ruined. Here are some of the lyrics to "home":

In this world I'm just a stranger
passing through this life of flesh and bones.
But my heart is filled with wonder
thinking of the place I belong
just dreaming of the place I belong.

Cause in the end
I'm going home.
I'll go to glory
on heaven's shores.
And as I'm dying,
my soul will soar.
In the end
I know I'm going home.

For a moment there is sorrow.
For a moment suffering.
But I have seen my tomorrow.
And I know where I'm gonna be.
I'll be like a bird set free.

Of course I was bawling as he sang this song. I thought of the two funerals I've attended this year and how both men went home to glory. One was for the father of two of the girls on my team. He died suddenly, a life cut tragically short. The other was for Rich DeBie, a man like a grandpa to me. He lived a long, full life and yet, in light of eternity, his years on earth were fleeting. I was crying, not in sorrow, but in joy- knowing these wonderful men were finally home.

This truth has been haunting me lately: I could die at any moment. So could you. I don't want my life to be wasted. I don't want to "go home" only to realize I spent my short time on earth just worried about my job, and my family, and my spider bites. I don't want to go home and realize I spent my years building my kingdom without much concern for my God's eternal kingdom. I've tried to ignore this idea. I've tried to brush it aside and concern myself instead with my team's terrible shooting percentage and my desperate need to touch up my highlights. But the Spirit won't let me forget.

It's in songs, in sermons, in books, and in the bible. Every where I turn, I'm reminded to live in light of eternity. I'm studying the book Crazy Love with a bunch of freshmen girls and we recently read a chapter which tells the story of a 14 year old girl who died in a car accident. She had written an essay about how she wanted to live so I made the girls jot down ideas for how they want to live. I compiled their responses. Pretty insightful for a bunch of squirrelly, boy-crazy 14 year old girls:

In light of eternity I will….

be a light in this dark world,

take risks,

put Jesus first,

find the bright side,

stop stressing,

be me and only me,

change someone’s life for the better,

be a mighty warrior for the kingdom,

seek God and show His love,

ignore the trash-talkers,

refuse to talk trash,

be content in every situation,

dance for God and Him alone,

be bold,

show the world my true colors,

listen, really listen,

be a peacemaker,

go against the flow and refuse to follow the ways of the world,

confess my sins,

choose what’s right,

give my best,

show the world how great and powerful my almighty God is,

be kind,

see others and myself as God does,

love others well and tell them I love them,

go on adventures,

swallow my pride and apologize sooner,

help the less fortunate,

keep God at the forefront of my mind,

be grateful,

praise constantly,

trust always,

hope every day,

serve every way,

seek God’s will,

fear Him,

believe Him,

and follow Him till

I join Him in heaven.

I was so pleased with their responses that I made this into an assignment for all my students. I don't really care if they ever learn where to put commas or when to use then or than. But if they learn to live with purpose, to live "in light of eternity" then I have done my job. If they learn that even on the terrible "need to re-start" mornings, God is good and they have a chance to live for His cause and kingdom, I have done my job. If they realize that their days on earth are short and temporary and heaven and eternity are just a moment away, I have done my job.


  1. oh KK thanks, my favorite song to bang on the piano was" This world is not my Home, I am just apassin through

  2. Okay, I'm taking this for my students! I needed someting for tomorow for Bible, maybe all my classes. We lost our secretary of 25 years at our school last night. Acute Leukemia. Diagnosed and gone home in less than a week. She was only 62. My post today is about her, Miss Rosemary. This exercise would be a fitting tribute for the kids to offer to her memory. Thank you my friend, we have certainly been on the same wavelength today.

  3. love this post. I had a rough morning this week and I'm so thankful for this reminder that this earth is not our home. thanks for sharing your heart :)