Weekly Devotional~ Everything is meaningless
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
My heart took delight in all my labor,
and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
Today I am praying over Ecclesiastes. A book full of controversy in that it has been called both wise and teachable but also pessimistic and inapplicable to the world today. I did not understand the book until I began learning about each author of each book in the Bible and how they came to be. Ecclesiastes, simply put, is a book of getting your priorities straight. Though authorship and motive is debated, one thing that remains constant through various commentary and bible teachings is that the value of life should not be measured by life itself, but by faith in the God who gives life. Continue after the jump for this week's devotional
The most popular section of Ecclesiastes is 3:1-8
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
In this section of Scripture we read of just about every moment we experience as humans, and if we read carefully, a very wise author has instructed us to accept that everything has a time of it's own.
We are, however, a world of people who wish to hold all of the keys in our hands; we would rather make things happen than turn them over to God. Though we feel good at the moment, soon there will be circumstances where we cannot be in charge of everything, and then what should we do? It is usually in this moment that we lean on whatever faith we hold.
As Christians, when we take control of our own lives we lose sight of His bigger plan and picture. We are busy worrying about the mundane when we should be enthralled by the unexplainable; small miracles happen as we are pessimistic about worldly circumstances.
The scripture I chose to meditate on today is important because, though it was written many years ago, it accurately captures something what we are aware of today, and that is that our minds are often distracted by things that do not really matter. The author explains that he has worked hard and played harder, and at the end of it all he found no pleasure in his "rewards". All that was earned was temporary; what was meant to be achieved was left behind.
This is not to say that we should sacrifice all fun and material pleasures, but we should certainly prioritize them correctly. What exists beyond paychecks, fashion, status and success is eternity. The Word does not tell us to pack a suitcase full of our paystubs and best Jimmy Choos and take a first class flight to the pearly gates, but rather to come to Him with a faithful heart. He could care less what we hold and boast about on this earth; in fact, I believe it saddens Him to see what we hold above Him.
When we empty our hearts of greed and pride, only then is there room for a God who can do amazing things through us. He wants us to be successful, but for His good; not our own benefit and pleasure. Remember, He created His world to work on a system of giving and more giving, not taking for ourselves. The reason this is a "dog-eat-dog" world where "every man is for himself" is because, when we detached ourselves from God out of greed and selfishness, we had no where to go but along that path we laid. He has worked on us through Scripture and the experiences of our ancestors, but it is still up to us to make the final decision of whether we work for Him or ourselves.
There are bible teachers that are fantastically gifted in presenting these truths in a way that can help us feel good about working so hard and still encourage us to take that discipline to the Throne. Francis Chan is one of those. He presented this video during a talk he gave and it has stuck with me since the first time I viewed it. I would like you to take the time to watch this and tell me if you can find your high-rise condo, your expensive wardrobe or even your shiny new car from God's viewpoint.
Pray your faithful heart is what reaches Him, not what you've chosen to hold instead.