Friday, April 10, 2009

Two Words that Blow My Mind

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God... The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.
-- Revelation 21:2, 16
Such a wonderful vision of hope--God replacing our decaying world with a new one--followed by a description of the city, complete with measurements. (As a side note, anyone know why God gives us the measurements of things seen in visions? I don't think we're going to re-construct this, and I'm pretty sure we'll know it when we see it. "Wait, no, this one's only 10,000 stadia... can't be the Holy City.")

In this passage, however, I am more struck with awe than hope. And simply because of two words. But before getting to those words, I want to discuss the rest of the passage. First, it helps to understand that 12,000 stadia is equivalent to 1,400 miles. So, when God is describing a city laid out like a square 1,400 miles on a side, he's talking about something this size:
That's Fargo, ND in the upper-left, Miami, FL at the bottom, and Maine & Quebec in the upper-right. And God is describing this all as one big city.

But that's not the kicker for me. It's the two small words: "and high". Yes, those two words say that God's city is 1,400 miles TALL as well. It's one HUGE cube. To give some perspective, Mt. Everest is 5.5 miles high (from sea level). The space station orbits at an altitude of 217 miles. 1,400 miles is insanely high. And assuming John did not document the first declaration of airspace, these are some LARGE buildings.

Looking at it a different way. Say we peeled the entire earth like a giant orange, with the peel consisting of everything between the height of Everest (5.5 mi) and the lowest point on Earth, the Marianas Trench (6.8 mi below sea level). We then take this "peel" and stack it up inside this cube. We'd run out of "peel" with another 170 miles of space to go.

Or a geekier way to look at it: The Death Star was a sphere only 100 miles in diameter.

I'll tell you one thing: that's no moon!

Week in Review - Lifehacks

For those unfamiliar with the term, a "lifehack" is something that helps make your daily life run more smoothly, efficiently, or purposefully. While I believe Jesus is the only necessary lifehack, I come across some tips that help me pull out the weeds that choke out the full life He offers. Other ones make me re-examine what it really means to be on purpose. Here are a few from the past week or so:

Finding Purpose: The story of college students choosing "fill the requirement" over "learn something" in his class really hit hard. How many times am I doing tasks because I'm required to do them? I find myself just waiting for the task to be over, that if I could fast-forward through this part of my life, I would. Yet, each moment is a gift from God, and God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose. I need to use each moment, whether it be for developing character, resting, or relying on His grace.

How to Ditch Meekness and Walk Tall: Well, this one pushed some buttons with the title alone. Jesus said that the meek are blessed, so I don't thing being blessed should be ditched. The key passage, however, is:
The root of meekness is low self-esteem. When our self-esteem is low, we respond to the challenges of life with doubts and fears.
Jesus may like meekness, but certainly not doubts (James 1:5-6) and fears (2 Tim 1:7). The resolution is simple enough: first, focus on God's esteem of you, not your self-esteem. Second, out of the strength of character He gives you, choose to be meek. That seems to be the model Jesus gave to us. Instead of ditching meekness and walking tall, we are commanded to die to self and carry our cross.

Why I'm Trying to Become a Quitter: The idea is once you realize something isn't valuable, cut your losses by quitting. Don't see it through just to be able to claim you've finished it. For me, there have been many times I've needed to quit a devotional or spiritual discipline because it was no longer bringing me closer to God; it had devolved into a habit that would allow me to check the "time with God" box.