Archive for the ‘Ecclesiastes’ Category

Even if its not real, time is a relentless illusion

September 4th, 2017 by Maureen

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die…. Ecc. 3:1-2

Is it really possible that the way human beings experience time is only an illusion? There is great debate in physics over how time works and whether time exists at all.

While I find this stuff fascinating, whatever its essence and however it works, we can’t ignore the way we humans experience time. The only time we can directly affect is now. The only moment we can actually experience love and grace and relationship is now. And yet we do reference our memories of past experiences and our hopes about the future in how we interpret and experience now. Births and deaths, seasons and decay, and our own aging selves are part of an observable flow of time and change that we experience. But often our perceptions about God’s perspective of time rather than our own observations influence our sense of meaning and purpose, and motivate our responses to whatever is going on in the present. What we believe about God and eternity affects how we perceive and experience time.

Lord, I’m trusting You with all my time, my life, and my being because experiencing You makes everything else more real.

There is always more to see

February 28th, 2016 by Maureen

God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecc. 3:11

There are mornings when it seems as though God has created a new shade of orange for the sun. The impact of ocean waves hitting high rocky cliffs reveal God’s power. The light from an ancient distant star hits the eye with His eternity. A flower unfolds over time much the way His grace and love opens our hearts and minds to reveal more of the beauty of Christ in each of us. We were designed to experience awe, and nature is only a glimpse into the awesome experience of relationship with Him.

Lord, I am awed by all You have made, all that You’ve shown me of Yourself, and all You have yet to reveal.

Being human in God’s image

December 30th, 2015 by Maureen

God created us in His own likeness and image. Gen. 1:26

I’ve heard the relationship between God and man compared to a human and an ant. None of these descriptions of what it means to be human sounds very ant-like:

He set eternity in our hearts. Ecc. 3:11

He has given us, as His disciples, all authority in heaven and earth. Matt. 28:18

Whoever believes in Jesus will do the works He did and even greater things…Jn. 14:12

His Holy Spirit to teach us all things.  Jn. 14:26  and guide us into all truth. Jn. 16:12

We can have the mind of Christ in us. Phil. 2:5

The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us. Rom. 8:11

Jesus has given us the glory the Father gave to Him that we might all be one with the Trinity together. Jn. 17:22

We are partakers in His divine nature. 2 Pet. 1:4

The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear but we know this much, when Jesus appears we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. 1 Jn. 3:2

Certainly none of us will ever be God, nor should we aspire to be, but perhaps what He wants us to experience and to become is more profound and transcendent than ants have the capacity to envision but are within the realm of what a child can envision for him- or herself when imagining what it is to be a grown-up. Embrace all it means to be a human child of God.

Lord, I want for myself everything You want for me. I open myself to all the possibilities You offer.

Beginnings and endings

July 21st, 2015 by Maureen

Better the end of a thing than its beginning. Patience is better than haughtiness. Ecc. 7:8

Well, actually, the planning and vision part at the beginning can be exciting and the end can be disappointing if the final product doesn’t live up to the vision. What is great about endings is that we often don’t see the whole story until the end. Crisis and conflict is no time to identify big themes or recognize the character arc that we are experiencing. It’s only when we look back from the ending that we see the story we’be been in all along. If we approach each new story with hope and let it unfold in God’s time, under His direction, we are more likely to be happy with the way it ends.

Lord, thank you for every beginning and ending.

Playing the cards you’re dealt

June 18th, 2015 by Maureen

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. Ecc. 9:11

The hand Hunter Treschl was playing took a turn when a shark bit off his arm on Monday. His response: choose to “live a normal life with the cards I’ve been dealt.” To accept that challenge and be ready to move forward is an impressive next-day response to a life-changing setback. Now one of Hunter’s cards has unique teeth marks and it will stay in his hand until the game is over. At some point every person’s hand will contain bad cards, cards that we didn’t see coming, didn’t deserve, and couldn’t control. That is a normal life.

Lord, help me accept the cards I’m dealt and play them out with grace and trust in Your goodness and goodwill.

The Third Strand

June 6th, 2015 by Maureen

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help… two people lying close together can keep each other warm…A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. And a cord with three strands is the strongest of all. Ecc. 4:9-12

When we recognize that God is the third strand of each relationship, whether it be marriage, family, friendships, church, business or social relationships, we can draw our identity, worth, and emotional security from Him rather than saddling another person with relationship responsibilities no human is equipped to cover. Relationships – all kinds of relationships – are about showing up but giving space, about supporting, equipping, and partnering but also celebrating independent achievement, about forgiving, encouraging, and respecting, about being honest and kind, about protecting and about making it safe for the other person to be honest too, and above all, about loving.

Lord, I am better off because of the people in my life. I thank you for them and for Your presence in each relationship.

 

 

 

 

In seasons of change

May 29th, 2015 by Maureen

To everything there is a season and a time for every delight under heaven. Ecc. 3:1 YLT

Change is inevitable and often outside our own choosing or control. Sometimes we have to let go of familiar routines, say good-bye to beloved friends, and adapt to new and sometimes unfamiliar people, environments, and scenarios. That can feel scary. Even when life’s unexpected turns seem to be taking us where we didn’t plan to go, God can be trusted to bring good things into the challenges of change. Our Father loves us and wants to give us peace and hope so that we can genuinely delight in what each new season brings.

Lord, I want to thrive in change, not just survive it.

Your angry face might get stuck like that

March 24th, 2015 by Maureen

Do not be quick in your spirit to become angry for anger lodges in the bosom of fools. Ecc. 7:9

If we focus too much on life’s little annoyances, if we repeat a litany of discontent when we asked how the day is going, if we overreact to small irritants, anger might be lodged in our thoughts, emotions, and reactions, damaging our health and our relationships. Sometimes initial anger works as a powerful motivator in bringing needed change to legitimately unjust situations, but even righteous indignation can turn ugly. Habitually angry people make less effective change agents.

Lord, turn my desire for justice and good into effective and gracious responses that bring about positive change. Help me to put the petty irritants into perspective and to focus on Your grace, love, beauty, and truth instead.

Unsolved mysteries

March 18th, 2015 by Maureen

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. Ecc. 11:5

Study and discovery has given human beings more information about weather and human development than the writer of Ecclesiastes had available when this verse was written and yet there are still worlds full of mystery under the sea, in space, in tiny microbes, and in the brain, to name a few. Study, research, and prayer may yield insight into some of our theological questions as well. Delving into God’s mysteries stretches our minds, strengthens our faith, and focuses our hearts and spirits on God.

Lord, lead me higher up and further in to the mystery of living my life in the wonders of all You make and all You are.

Seasons change

March 14th, 2015 by Maureen

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. Ecc. 3:1

Not everyone’s seasons coincide. On the same day some friends might celebrate new babies while others bury beloved relatives. Sometimes one person’s season of tearing down happens at the same time as another person’s season of building up. It’s not helpful to bring our demolition days into somebody else’s building days. And it can be nothing short of awkward and irritating when we try to force our sunny seasons into our neighbor’s storms, even if we do so with the best of intentions. The season any one of us happens to be experiencing does not determine the vibe of the whole world.

Lord, give me the spiritual finesse to dance with the dancers, mourn with the mourners, yet still be fully engaged in my particular season You’ve provided for me to experience.

The common ground of eternity

January 4th, 2015 by Maureen

He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecc. 3:11b

Eternity in our hearts is the longing for meaning and truth; it is our response to beauty and our inspiration to create; it is our desire for relationship and our need to belong. God has planted universal human eternals in all people, even those who understand God is different from traditional Christian understandings, even those who deny that eternity dwells within them at all. Through the finished work of Christ God calls all people to be reconciled with Him and empowers those who love Him to communicate that reconciliation.

Lord, help me to speak the common tongue of eternity to the hearts I meet today.

 

Life is beautiful

January 2nd, 2015 by Maureen

He has made everything beautiful it its time. Ecc. 3:11a

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder then if we want a more beautiful life we can choose to stretch our definitions of beauty so that we can behold more of it. Our tastes in art, architecture, clothing, style, etc. vary greatly. Traits in people that are considered attractive may vary among cultures. Certain flowers, dog breeds, and other patterns in nature are more and less appealing to certain individuals. What is beautiful beyond what we’ve considered? Finding the surprising, unexpected beauty in ordinary objects and people is a big part of living the life He is making beautiful for us rather than defaulting to the mundane ugliness of this fallen world.

Lord, help me to look for the beauty You’ve made, especially when I don’t recognize it at first.

Share the care

November 15th, 2014 by Maureen

In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. Ecc. 8:16

We are all busy and because we are so connected through instant-access media and social networks, we also are keenly aware of other people’s busy-ness.,,and their business. While the desire to know, the desire to help, and the desire to pray are all good, we can become spiritually, mentally, and emotionally over-saturated with concerning information. We have to trust that God has it and that He can inspire those closer to each situation to become involved.

Lord, lead me to become involved where You want me, help me to be effective in those areas, and help me to let go and trust You and other people with the concerns that are not mine to bear.

Pride and patience and stuff

November 5th, 2014 by Maureen

Patience is better than pride. Ecc. 7:8

When interruptions happen it’s easy to become frustrated because, after all, whatever we are doing when we were interrupted matters. When we have to wait it can feel as if our time is more valuable than whatever causes the delay. Conversations that requires considerable investment to get to “yes” or to reach consensus can seem really tedious, especially if we are focused on our own agendas. Recognition that none of this is exclusively about our stuff helps us develop patience. Sometimes it takes conscious and repeated acknowledgement of this fact to approach anything vaguely resembling patience.

God help me be patient when my stuff seems like the only stuff that matters. Thanks for being so much more patient with me than I am with others…or with myself.

Stuff happens

October 2nd, 2014 by Maureen

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. Ecc. 9:11

We study and plan and prepare and still things go wrong. Interruptions and distractions. Machines won’t cooperate. Electronics crash. Traffic happens. People we love, or we ourselves, get sick or injured. The results are in and the news is devastating. The platitudes we try to apply to these situations to explain the “why’s” seem thin and weak. When things happen that seem cruel and unfair sometimes the best thing we can do is forget about what and why and just fall into WHO.

God I know that you love me no matter what is happening to me. I trust you are helping me even when I don’t see evidence of it. I believe in Your victory though I feel defeated by this specific circumstance.

 

 

Seasons of ironic delight

July 8th, 2014 by Maureen

To everything there is a season and a time for every delight under heaven. Ecc. 3:1 YLT

Intriguingly what we usually read as “purpose” or “event” is translated “delight” in Young’s Literal translation. Do we read further and conclude that war, weeping, and hate are “delights” or is this one of those ironic euphemisms, the way a plane crash “ruins your whole day?”  While its natural to want to understand, it is vanity to think we can avoid the rough patches by figuring why they happened. It’s denial to pretend they are delightful. What is delightful is that no matter how bad it gets God knows, cares, and His purposes for us are always good.

Lord, help me to delight in You even when I’m in a season that is less than delightful.

 

 

Remembrance by the numbers

May 26th, 2014 by Maureen

There is not a remembrance of former [generations]; and will be no remembrance of those who live now by those that are at the last. Ecc. 1:11 YLT

As citizens we owe it to those who have lost their lives on the battlefields in the name of the United States to remember their names, to value their lives, and to grieve their loss. And as we remember the fallen, let us include the 22 veterans who commit suicide each day, the 5.5 million disabled veterans. including the 1 in 5 suffering from PTSD, and the 57,849 homeless veterans,  These men and women have lost the lives they used to have before they fought. To remember is to push against the tide of selfishness and apathy and to count the costs of war.

Lord, inspire us to do more than remember.

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t deserve this

April 26th, 2014 by Maureen

I have turned so as to see under the sun, that the race is not always to the swift the race, nor the battle to the mighty, nor bread to the wise, nor wealth the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful, for time and chance happen with them all. Ecc.9:11

Life is not fair. Though our actions and attitudes can and do effect outcomes in our lives, time and chance disrupt our self-reliant perspectives and replace them with God-centric perspectives. Focus on the unfairness of life yields bitterness. Focus on the love and grace of God yields peace.

Lord, thank you for giving me better than I deserve.

Christmas present

December 2nd, 2013 by Maureen

It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them. Ecc. 5:18

Sometimes our grandest purpose is simply to be present in our eating and drinking and working, to pay attention to the people who are right there in front of us, and to savor life’s small adventures. In a season that is full of planning, preparation and purpose it’s easy to focus on “special events” and fail to be present in the moment.

Help me practice the art of being present and increase my awareness of Your presence in these present moments.

 

 

 

In the moment

November 8th, 2013 by Maureen

Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. Ecc. 11:6

It’s important to prioritize, but it’s not a good idea to write off opportunities, or relationships. What may seem like an unproductive waste of time might turn out to be incredibly rewarding. We can’t always predict which activity or personal interaction may lead to transformation and blessing in our lives. It’s important to pay attention.

Lord, help me to be in the moment all day.