Sunday, December 26, 2004

Make it eternal

I was in a Bible Study this semester with some people who worked at camp last summer. One of the things Lynda shared at it that impacted me the most was a dream a pastor had, loosely based on 1 Corinthians 3:10-17. Basically the pastor saw himself standing beside 2 other people, and each had a pile of straw in front of them. Jesus came with these piercing, fiery eyes, and the straw in front of the two other people was consumed. One was left with a pile of diamonds, which she offered gladly to Jesus in worship. The other was devastated to be left with nothing but ashes. The pastor woke up before Jesus got to his pile. Basically what he took from it was that as Christians, we will all be saved (In the 1 Corinthians passage, which talks about building a house of straw, it says "The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames") - we're forgiven, as long as we don't deny Him. But I think the way we choose to spend our time in this life will inevitably have an effect on our afterlife nonetheless. If we love God, we will redeem the time He's given us. We will use this resource wisely. This idea may not come directly from that passage in 1 Cor, which talks more about the discipling work done by leaders, but I still think it's biblical. What will we have to offer Him at the end?

I know I've heard this lesson many times, heard it called "practicing the presence of God" or "praying continually" or even "WWJD". But the new twist, the mantra I developed from this lesson was "Make it eternal". Strive to give every moment eternal value. Don't let it slip by. How can it be used for God's glory? It's not only the big moments, the big decisions God's watching, He cares about the in-between stuff too. This practice can seem tiring, but I believe it's the way to live like Jesus did. Many times I get the sneaking suspicion I've been missing the point, doing so many things that keep me busy but never focusing on the right things. This "make it eternal" idea has been keeping me more on track.

For example, the simple act of talking to someone. So often I let little conversations slip by. How to make it of eternal value? By focusing on showing God's love rather than receiving love from that person. By taking opportunities to encourage, without flattery. By being vulnerable and talking about things God's teaching me, instead of usual surface conversation. By listening, even to what they're not saying. Maybe by trying to pray for the person while talking. Studying for exams was another major activity I've been trying to "redeem" in this way - by working hard without becoming self-absorbed, starting and ending study times and exams with prayer, thanking Him for my mind and the chance to get an education.

Anyway, I wonder if any of you do this kind of thing too? Any other ways of looking at it? Any other ideas of how to "make eternal" everyday activities, make diamonds instead of ashes? As good old DC Talk says, "Time is ticking away..."


Evan said...

this has been something that i've poondered a bit over the last semester, too, even back to the end of march-ish. i think that if we give God an opening, he will be free to move through what we do. i often pray while studying, i can honestly say that it's been self-centred at time, but i try to pray along the lines of "God, you've put me here, help me to do what needs to be done." this past term Batgirl and I have been praying with and for each other, and this has made a massive impact in our relationship. at camp, i can remember praying for speakers while they were speaking and it felt like a whindo had been opened in the spiritual house.

where i feel that i fail is that when i pray for people when i have conversations with them, it seems i miss some things. it's hard to speak and to listen at the same time, so why would it be any easier to pray and to listen concurrently? maybe a better way is to say a quick prayer in your head, right off the bat, without closing. allow God to be present through the conversations and be listening not only to your friend, but to God too. asking God to help you talk to friends with an open heart, as well as ears would go a long way with many of us. after the converation is done, or during lulls, pray then. once the conversation is done, offer it up to God and close. maybe this is a better way to communicate with our friends? for many in this group, God is a, if not the most, common thread and a friend to both. why shouldn't He be present? i've been finding it easier to pray for people (at the times i do) when i do this and suddenly the whole concept of intercessory prayer isn't so scary.

i think we can make little changes to our lives now, we can start to see how what we live now is part of the etrenal already and that will help us realize that how we live now will be reflected for the rest of eternity, after our deaths.

Anonymous said...

i think maybe that's what worship is... making everything eternally significant.

Evan said...

sorry to be semantical, but i don't think it's what worship is as opposed to how to worship. worship is more telling God that He's the most important thing ever, and this is one way to do it.