Have you ever been doing a puzzle when all of a sudden a couple of pieces you’ve been looking at individually jump off the table at you, and you realize they go together?
Finding the connection between those two brings into focus how they fit in the bigger picture and other pieces that can be connected.
That’s sort of what it felt like this week as I was mulling over several scriptures and teachings from the weekend.
Some from personal study, some from small group, some from Sunday school, and some from my pastor’s message.
All of a sudden, they jumped off the page and the connections became clear!
In Sunday School, we’re studying Ecclesiastes. We’ve just begun, so I anticipate lots of new understandings of this book in the coming weeks.
It starts out a little heavy, don’t you think?
‘Everything is meaningless’…not one of those passages you would put in a notecard to a friend!
What would you say if I told you that coming to the same conclusion as the author of Ecclesiastes (likely Solomon) is actually one of the most positive things I’ve ever done?
Solomon had known great wealth, had a plethora of friends and relationships, had immense wisdom. You name it, he had either acquired it or experienced it. He had also sat back, so to speak, and observed others’ lives.
He came to the conclusion that absolutely none of it mattered. Everything under the sun was meaningless.
Ok, you’re dismissed! Go have a great day! 🙂
The word meaningless (also translated as vanity, pointless, futility) means ‘a breath’.
It’s the same word we see throughout the Psalms…
You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. (Psalm 39:5)
“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. (Psalm 39:6)
Remember how fleeting is my life. For what futility you have created all humanity! (Psalm 89:47)
They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow. (Psalm 144:4)
We know this deep down. It’s why our flesh so desperately craves something lasting. It’s why many spend their lives attempting to secure an enduring legacy. Our lives are but a breath, no matter who we are.
But scripture is full of commands and admonishments for us as we live out our exhale.
Why should it matter what I do with my life if everything is futile?
Well, it matters because the futility is in the earthly rewards. We have a reason for being here…
To glorify God.
In his sermon series, ‘New Year’, Louie Giglio points out that scripture makes it very easy to figure out God’s will for us.
It is quite simply to bring glory to the Father.
Keeping that purpose in the forefront of our minds helps us maintain the right perspective as we go through life and make decisions.
Now, there are definitely times when God gives us a very specific direction. In those instances, we would be wise to follow. But that’s not what I’m about to describe.
For most of our decisions, the only thing we need to be concerned about is whether our choice will honor God.
The realization that nothing really matters should be liberating, not defeating!
Consider the heaviest decision you’re facing right now. Unless God has clearly spoken to you through the Holy Spirit and told you what to do, you simply do what would honor Him.
Both choices honor Him? Fantastic!! Take a step and trust that He is big enough to make up for your short-sightedness.
Neither one would honor Him? Time to look for plan C.
Sometimes we become paralyzed by the fear that a decision we make will set our life on the wrong course.
But you and I, for all our best laid plans, can’t anticipate every potential danger or blessing.
And God doesn’t always give us the clear open door/closed door option.
When I’m not sure which job to choose, I pick the one that would allow me to best reflect Christ.
For “what has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 2:22 ESV)
When I’m overwhelmed by the options of where to plant roots and raise a family, worrying that my choice will determine the outcome of my children’s lives, I choose whatever would position our family to bring honor to the Father.
“For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 6:12 ESV)
I could go on, but I imagine you’ve got your own list.
So what do we do to avoid twiddling our thumbs while we anticipate our homecoming?
Well, as my pastor pointed out Sunday…
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 ESV)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” (Colossians 3:23 ESV)
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” (1 Peter 4:10 ESV)
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might…”(Ecclesiastes 9:10 ESV)
So today, let’s not waste another moment fretting over decisions that have no lasting worth.
Let’s purpose to honor God in all of the small things, and trust that He is sovereign in the big ones.
And let’s remember that the only things that matter this side of heaven are the ones that reflect that side of heaven.