I came back to Purdue and started school this month! It’s been chilly, but I’ve been loving it. This semester is looking much lighter than the last one, and I already have a few favorite classes: a science class about space, a narrative literature class, and international marketing. I’m also…
- diving into Acts with a Bible study, co-leading another Bible study, and finishing up Job with a friend
- super excited as I get back into action at the OWL (Purdue’s On-Campus Writing Lab where I tutor students)
- making mini snowmen and banana peanut butter waffles when I have spare time ⛄️🧇
While I’ve been getting some practical information about Excel and organizational behavior, I’ve also been reminded of four lessons about where humanity stands before God. Most of these lessons came from somewhat unlikely sources during the first week of school, including a planets lecture and Ebenezer Scrooge. I’m thankful for the positive way that daily life at college impacts my faith, and I hope these reflections can encourage you too.
We Are Small
Humor me and imagine that the Milky Way galaxy is the size of the continental United States.
If the Milky Way was this size, do you know how big our solar system would be? It would be the size of your fingerprint. Our sun would be tiny enough to sit on the ridge of your fingerprint.
And did you know that the Sun is 99.86% of our solar system’s mass?
Ok, ignore the Sun for a second.
The earth is just 0.2% of the mass of the planets in our solar system. Just a fraction of a percentage.
This lesson from my planets class was mind-blowing and humbling. Imagine how hard it would be to find our tiny Solar System in the huge expanse of the Milky Way. Tinier yet is planet Earth. And we are so much tinier!
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. - Psalm 8:3:5 (ESV)
Our Lives Are Short
My first reading for my great narrative works class is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and I can’t believe I hadn’t read it before. It might deserve its own blog post.
Scrooge starts out the story with a sense of apathy toward death. Marley was his best friend, but rather than grieving him, Scrooge made a business deal on the day of his death. When he’s asked to support the poor, he says they might as well die and decrease the surplus population. Scrooge’s careless attitude toward death shows that he doesn’t value life.
However, what makes Christmas special, according to Scrooge’s nephew, is that it is, “the only time I know of … when men and women seem … to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
That’s a little bit interesting, isn’t it? I haven’t heard a Disney movie define it that way before. We’re “fellow passengers to the grave.”
But it’s biblical too:
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah.” – Psalm 39:4-5
And over the course of the story, Scrooge comes to embrace this meaning of Christmas, that we’re all gonna die. And as he does, he embraces the value of the lives around him.
As Christians, our hope is in eternity. This earth is not our own. However, while we’re here, we have an opportunity to share Christ’s love with the lost. We’re all fellow passengers to the grave, and a little kindness can go a long way.
We Are Clueless
We are small and our lives are short. Going along with this theme, we are also clueless.
I’m studying Acts this semester with a Bible study, and something stood out to me in the first chapter.
To set the scene, the apostles have been a little clueless ever since they first met Jesus. They want Him to overthrow the Romans and be their King, but they don’t realize that His actual destination in mind is the cross. Now, they have just witnessed Christ die and rise again to do something way bigger than taking political power: redeem them from their sins.
And the apostles have a question.
“So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’” – Acts 1:6
They’re still clueless. Like a broken record, they are pretty stuck on this political power idea.
And what does Christ say?
“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’” – Acts 1:7-8
He tells these clueless apostles to be His witnesses. They still don’t have their minds wrapped around the greatness of Christ’s purpose, but He wants them to be the people who tell the world who He is.
We like to think that we have a better understanding than these silly apostles. If you think about it, we’re pretty clueless too.
Pretty amazing what God can do through clueless people.
We’re created by the same Creator who put the stars in their place
Let’s circle back to that planets class. At the end of the first lecture, the professor argued that human atoms are made from the remnants of stars and our hydrogen is from the Big Bang. He showed a clip of Carl Sagan talking about this to end the class on an inspirational note. “We are made of star stuff.”
I don’t buy it. But I still walked away encouraged, because it reminded me what I do believe.
I believe that the Creator of the stars created us. He created us with as much beauty and intentionality and purpose as He had in mind when He painted the galaxies and orchestrated the planets.
Yes, we are small. Our lives are short. We can be pretty clueless.
But our Creator is truly amazing.
Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing. - Isaiah 40:26
What do you think?
What lessons have you learned from daily life recently? Let’s share!