How many of you have memories of time on a porch or on the porch swing? I know this is subjective, but it seems to me that homes with the large porches and a swing may be a thing of the past. I know that some homes have them, but I wonder if they are well used or just a good decoration. I do have memories of sitting on the porch enjoying the company of family and friends. It seems to me that the absence of the porch swing might be an indicator of an overlooked part of life. Spending time with others that we care about.
King Solomon touches on the danger of busyness. His diary of thought about his spiritual journey recorded in Ecclesiastes reflects his frustration in finding purpose separate from faith in God. He uses the phrase “chasing after the wind” nine times in the first 6 chapters to find purpose in the business of life.
This week I hope to influence you to ponder the need for creating margin to “smell the roses” in your life. If your life is like most Americans, you pack your day jam packed full of obligations, commitments and responsibility. The pursuit of doing more keeps you sprinting from dawn to dusk. The simple truth is that you are not on a lone run by yourself. Rather you are in a mass field of running in a huge marathon of those also “chasing after the wind.”
Solomon can see God’s beauty in all that exists, but he is frustrated that God does not allow us to know everything. “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) I like what one commentator writes, “God in His providential plans and control has an appropriate time for every activity.” He has also given us a capacity to grasp that there is more to life than the here and now. Solomon’s frustration that “[mankind] cannot know the sovereign, eternal plan of God.” His point repeated in the passage is that life does not make sense apart from faith in our Creator. We have to trust Him!
The reality for you and I is that “chasing after the wind” of life tend to blows us off course in our relationship with God. It does not take long before work, family and even church collapse into meaningless drudgery without a growth relationship with God. So what is the solution for steering my life? Solomon touches on two areas in the next verses. First, we need to accept who we are and where we are in God’s working in our lives. “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;” (Ecclesiastes 3:12) The course correction here is to find the joy in our “mundane” daily lives. It speaks of stopping to smell the roses that grow along our daily path. It could be as simple as the pleasure of a good cup of coffee, a conversation or as significant as sharing a meal with a loved one. A second course correction speaks of the focus of my life, the need to do “good.” A self-focused life leaves us empty. I sense this as a theme in Solomon’s memoirs. The challenge is not so much about changing our activities but changing our attitude. Solomon makes that observation when he suggests, “also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13)
It is amazing how a refreshed perspective on life reorders our priorities. A correction of our motives puts us on the course to creating that space, or margin, that is needed to enjoy that cup of coffee, time for conversation with another or even time to invest in a relationship over a meal or stopping to enjoy the moment.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson