Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Turn, Turn, Turn

I’m reminded of a famous song often abbreviated to “Turn, Turn, Turn.”  The lyrics were lifted almost word for word from the book of Ecclesiastes and were sung by a number of different artists; most famously, The Byrds.  

Here is the original in Ecclesiastes:
To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Life is full of seasons! There is no living in the now. Not really. The “now” is ever changing into the “past” and the “future.” Truly, we cannot live only in this moment, nor were we created to exist only in what happens this very moment. There is so much more to life than existentialism. Was all of it just meant to keep us busy?  I would guess that someone wants to show us something—but what?

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds (a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing *under the sun* but God alone can satisfy), yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

The fact that I question this is proof enough for me that the reason I struggle so much with this earthly existence, is that things are not meant to be like this forever. There is definitely an internal longing for more. God has planted eternity into our hearts and minds. A longing that is an implanted sense of purpose-- that only God can satisfy. You could say that as long as we ignore that longing, it is void, empty, unfulfilled. It needs to be filled—with God.

“And God does it so that men will (reverently) fear Him (revere and worship Him, knowing that He is).”

That word fear doesn’t mean being scared of Him. It’s a respect, a reverence and an understanding of who He is. God wants a relationship with us. He wants a relationship that puts Him first in our lives, knowing that without Him--what’s the point? We are made to go deeper than what this vapor of life; this momentary existence offers. We are made for eternity. We are made for God.

Solomon goes on to say that God is trying us. He is sifting and separating us. “So that we may see that by ourselves (under the sun, without God), we are but beasts.“ The same fate certainly happens to man and beast. We all die, and we are but dust in the wind.
Aren’t we basically good people inside though?

I know of people who have walked into a prison and talked to murderers, child molesters, etc., and asked them if they’re good. They’ll all tell you they’re basically good people—sure they messed up here and there, but basically they’re good.

Did you notice that the reason God tries us is so that we may see ourselves as we really are. God already knows who we are—but He wants us to see it. We look at ourselves with rose colored glasses on. We forgive ourselves so easily, but who are we really?
I’ll leave you with that question. 

Thank you for visiting my little corner of the world! I so appreciate your comments and insights! 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Under the Sun

If only.

We like to think about it. We love to fantasize about it. We believe it will make all the difference in the world.

If only I could do whatever I wanted...
If only I was like him/her...
If only I were rich...

Then I would... be happy ; be a somebody;  have no worries; (insert your own).

Do you ever spend any time thinking about this stuff? Would any of those things really make a difference? Well, I think that it would make a big difference--for a while anyway, until the circle we’ve created starts spinning out of control, or (heaven forbid) gets boring. For as long as we live our lives “under the sun,”  none of it will ever really fulfill our deepest need.

How we love to enjoy ourselves! Slogans and sayings, such as “Just Do It, Live for Today, Take Care of #1, We’re here for a good time, not a long time,” are all reflective of a lifestyle lived under the sun.
What’s wrong with enjoying ourselves? Well--nothing really--everything in moderation. As long as we don’t expect it to make us completely and eternally happy!

Let’s see what Solomon says: “And WHATEVER my eyes desired I kept not from them. I withheld not my heart from ANY pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor, and this was my portion and the reward for all my toil."

Whoa Solomon...there’s a whole lot of stuff in whatever and any.

This king spent his time enjoying many pleasures and doing great works (houses, vineyards, gardens, orchards), He had many, many servants, gold and riches (apparently silver was worth little in his days since he owned so much of it). He was a great king who was heralded for his wisdom.  Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? If only we were like Solomon...right?

Solomon doesn’t stop there, but goes on to say: “and behold, all was emptiness and a striving after the wind, and there was no profit under the sun; what can the man do who succeeds the king? Nothing but what has been done already.”

So then what’s the point?  I’m sometimes flummoxed by the rich and famous. They seem to have everything they could possibly want. More wine, guilty pleasures and money than most, yet eventually all they end up with is emptiness. Why? They no longer derive any pleasure from it. Some need counseling and rehab just to get back to normal--all the while regretting the wasted years. Was it all meaningless in the end?

As we read on, Solomon becomes discouraged and asks “For what has a man left from all his labor and from the striving and vexation of his heart in which he has toiled under the sun? For all his days are but pain and sorrow, and his work is a vexation and grief; his mind takes no rest even at night. This also is emptiness.”

Then he comes to a premature conclusion and states that there is nothing better for a man than that he should eat, drink and be merry (sound familiar?). And almost as an afterthought, "even though this is from the hand of God."

Hmmm--interesting! That's right, God does want us to enjoy our lives. I guess it got Solomon thinking...and the following verse is a gem--a bright, glimmering bolt of truth:

“For who can eat or who can have enjoyment any more than I can (Solomon, the man who had everything!)--apart from Him?

What’s Solomon saying?

It’s all futile without a hope in God!

And that’s where I’m going to end this post. Thanks for visiting my little corner of the world!