Daily Update #254

“There is a time for everything, and
A season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones
 and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.”Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
This best known section in Ecclesiastes expresses in poetic form a series of opposite life experiences, which often leave us puzzled as to their overall meaning.   Several months ago our creaking bones and diminishing energy led us to decide that it was time to embrace a new season in life by selling our home, and the garden we had lovingly tended for 8 years and find something smaller.     Parts of two particular verses seem rather apt present! – 
 (v.2) “a time to plant, and a time to uproot” and (v.6) “a time to keep and a time to throw away”
 A younger family are now re-decorating our old home, and we are happy for them to enjoy the fruits of our labours in the garden.   We are still working on the “throwing away” bit!
Life has its seasons – some feel positive and exciting, others less so and sometimes painful.   Eugene Petersen in his introduction to Ecclesiastes in “The Message” says…..

“We humans are always looking for ways to be more than or other than what we find ourselves to be.  We explore the countryside for excitement, search our souls for meaning, shop the world for pleasure.  We try this.  Then we try that.  ……….  Everything we try is so promising at first!  But nothing ever seems to amount to very much.   We intensify our efforts – but the harder we work at it, the less we get out of it….”

Life and death issues are very much to the fore in many of our minds at present.  Things don’t always turn out as we expect or hope, so what is the point of it if this is where it all ends?  This is life for people without God and the eternal perspective.   Life’s ultimate questions are unanswered.   

While it is good to enjoy the lovely things that God gives us, they should not become our whole life and reason for living.  It is folly to do so.

We Christians have so much more to enjoy and look forward to.  We are people of the resurrection.  Easter changed everything.  This life isn’t all there is – we have something much better to look forward to.  The loss of Christian brothers and sisters who have gone before us gives us pain, but we rejoice with them in the blessings they now enjoy and look forward to the time when we will share them.  

I have probably said this before, but I don’t mind repeating one of my favourite Bible passages –   Matthew 6:33.   It is part of a longer passage on worry and includes a reference to Solomon’s wealth

 “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things” (food, drink, clothing, etc.) “will be given you as well.”

I have security, an anchor through life’s ups and downs, a basis for making decisions, a yardstick against which to evaluate right and wrong, and a reason for living.  Most of all, through the death of Jesus on the cross, I have immediate access to a life of relationship with Him.  Nothing is more precious or meaningful than that.   
 “Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy.
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ.
O make but trial of His love,
Experience will decide
How blest are they, and only they,
Who in His truth confide.”
Nahum Tate (1652-1715) and 
Nicholas Brady (1659-1756)Tomorrow’s passage:  Ecclesiastes 3:9-14