Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I have been preaching through the book of Ecclesiastes over the course of the last few months. Solomon, the author, is an immensely deep philosopher. His writing has forced me to think, to ponder, and to contemplate over his subject matter.
Some themes seem to repeat themselves throughout the book. Two in particular come to thought now as I type: 1) Death approaches faster than we would like and 2) enjoy the life God has given you to the fullest.
I have three more Sundays to conclude my teaching on Ecclesiastes and two more chapters. This week opens with a particularly interesting verse:
"Cast your bread upon the waters,for after many days you will find it again", Ecclesiastes 11:1
I have a question for you: When was the last time you cast bread into the water? I bet recently enough to remember there is no hope for retrieving the bread! Soggy bread is useless--unless you're a duck! To the one who cast it there is no return.
My thought this week has been, "Interesting Solomon. Lord what does this mean?"
Then I found myself a Costco. Yes, I know the place for deep spiritual insight! I had my list, bread was needed. I picked up the standard two-loaf combo of sliced bread that we burn through quickly every week. Then I picked up a special loaf of sliced Sourdough bread. My thoughts:
1. Bread and toaster equals delicious!
2. Bread and PB&J equals delicious!
3. Bread and tuna fish equals delicious!
4. Bread and Nutella equals delicious!
5. Bread and casting into water equals waste!
Hmm, I pondered all the way home. At home, I immediately placed one loaf of bread into the freezer and left two loafs out (one Sourdough and one regular). The bread in the freezer is not going bad, the other two are in jeopardy if we don't eat them quickly (which is never a problem in our home)!
Then it dawned on me. "Bread" is our life. It is vanishing quickly. This life we know will soon be gone. I believe Solomon is exhorting us to go for it, to live our lives to the fullest! Seems like such a simple exhortation, but something about age and responsibilities seem to zap our desire to live life to its fullest.
But all too often we freeze our bread so it won't go bad...we minimize the risk of loosing it. We do this with all kinds of stuff. As Christians we should be generous, we should invest in the lives of others. Sometimes it may feel like we are wasting our time, but we need to trust Paul: "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not loose heart." (Gal. 6:9)
The chapter goes on to mention dangers and unknowns that come with life (Ecc. 11:3-6). Sure there are risks! Sure challenges lie ahead! But today you are the youngest you are going to be for the rest of your life, so go for it! Enjoy this day for all that God allows you to! Solomon tells us that our days are sweet (11:7) even when trials come (11:8)!
I simply love the concluding verses of the chapter:
"Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth. Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment." Ecclesiastes 11:9
Check this out, God wants you live a joyful life. To enjoy life! Live it to the fullest, make the most of your life! But he reminds us, in this pursuit, don't forget there is a holy God that will bring our actions to account. I don't have time to unpack this, but the bottom line is that ultimate joy is found in living your life according to God's ways!
He concludes the section with this amazing thought:
"So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless." Ecclesiastes 11:10
See the command here? Banish anxiety! Other translations read: Remove sorrow! Refuse to worry! Remove discontent! Remove vexation!
Cast out the bread into the waters! I love that the Bible constantly encourages us to trust in God, enjoy life, family, and friends. God is like the waiter with a fine meal who says, "Enjoy the life I just served you!" Don't fear the unknown, the surprises, but trust in the One who gave you this life.
Father, I confess my worry to you. Lord help me to enjoy this life, each moment that You have given, to the very fullest! Amen.
Posted by Gunnar Hanson at 11:02 PM