Ecclesiastes

For Such A Time As This... I Have Arrived

TimeCheck it out for yourself: Ecclesiastes 3

"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

Time. It is a perplexity of life and something which we seem to never escape. In honesty, I had thought of many things I might want to share with regards to my thoughts of time and the way in which we treat it. Ways which seem to treat time as though we poses it and have the right to use it as we see fit to our own desires. I think often of the statement "Don't waste my time!"

Likewise, we never seem to exist in the moment of time which we are currently in. When we are at church we are thinking about what we will do when we get home. When we are at home we are thinking about what we will do when we are at work. When we are at work we are thinking about what it will be like to be on vacation. The dichotomy we create between what our bodies are doing and what our minds are doing develops such a rift that I wonder if we ever really truly arrive in the moment to which we are presently in.

It was when I was in this thought pattern that a friend of Bonnie's and mine wrote an email to us that just seemed to strike right at this thought of time and our inability to see the whole picture to which God was present and aware of. We met Katie about five years ago as she lived in a group home here in the SE side of Calgary while adjusting to living with MS. She has since become a good friend of ours and in many ways an inspiration to following Jesus. A part of the Center Street Church community, Katie is greatly involved with social activism and fights for many of the rights for the disabled community here in Calgary and Alberta. She also is a very talented creative arts painter and promotes her work on her website www.oralart.ca/.

In any sense I felt moved by the timing of her email and wanted to share it with you as part of my devotional to Ecclesiastes 3 and For Such A Time As This... I Have Arrived.

When do you know that you have arrived? Have you arrived when you get married and move into the house of your dreams? Have you arrived when you have your first child? Have you arrived when you get the perfect career and have assured your security? When you have grown old and actualized all of your goals?

I started taking my trip on a bright red, reliable and strong bicycle to get to the ends of the earth and find adventure. I soon came across a Village of Fatigue and crossed over a bridge of Uncertainty. I came upon a dirt road that led to many scary turns and frightening hills. I had to get off my bicycle and I had to stop in a worrisome and unpredictable city called Exacerbation.

My tires started to go flat and I had to lay my bicycle down since my kickstand broke off while navigating around a rock of Depression. While momentarily stationary, I found a place to live, found some work, got a cat, and found love but I never found rest or a sense of direction.

Overnight, my bicycle was stolen, my house burned down, the business went into receivership, my cat died and my boyfriend left me. In desperation, I caught a bus that ended up on the road that was muddied and impassable. It eventually crashed in Suicide Gulch and I became broken. I was lost.

While in the hospital, I was introduced to a wonderful Man [Jesus] who tried to comfort me and heal my wounds. He became my new Map Reader. The road continued to be long and hard and my pain continued. We were unable to find a place to convalesce. There was an Apartment of Despair, a Townhouse of Inequity, and finally a House of Horrors.

We continued to reach dead ends but I think that my misplaced self-reliance kept grabbing the map out of the Man's hands. I needed to follow. His acute navigational skills found me in a House of Care with a backyard that stretched out for miles. The old house still needs some major renovations but I was safe. In the backyard, I was planted in enriched soil, grew strong roots, and was sheltered from unpredictable storms. My many gardeners fed, watered and pruned me and soon I was able to learn some gardening skills of my own.

I was able to plant bright, sweet smelling flowers of fun, excitement, confidence, perseverance and gratitude. I spread grass seeds of hope that grows lush and green every year, provides comfort when I lie down and its fragrance reassures me. At times though, I still feel sad and grievous when some of the blooms fail to open but I am optimistic some will thrive in the next season.

I grew trees that scattered pollen of awareness that attached themselves to anyone who was willing to listen. I started to paint fences of isolation, with my art, to inspire and motivate those who were weary.

With a convicted spirit, I took the harvest of my garden and shared it with others who were able to change the landscape, pave roads that were once unsafe, to find those lost on their journey and to relieve them of their heavy loads.

I have a new bicycle now. It sits in a sturdy bike rack called trust and I take side trips to build my character. It's a bicycle built for two because my Map Reader needs a comfortable place to sit. My journey is over and I am now on a mission. I have finally found a new Place -- in my heart -- called Joy and Contentment. I have arrived.

Vanity of Vanities and the Pursuit of Wind: Let's Take a Deep Breath!

Check it out for yourself: Ecclesiastes 1-2

"For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind." - Ecclesiastes 2:26

As a teenager I dreamed of being a pilot. For years I would stick my hand out the window of my parents moving car and day dream of being in a British Aerospace Sea Harrier with the wings carving through the air as my hand drifted this way and that through the wind. I was no Top Gun but I loved the sense of freedom and adventure it brought. There was nothing I couldn't make that plane do high up in the sky. At least nothing my imagination couldn't do.

Pilot SeatI was thirteen years old when I took my first flight as a copilot in a single prop Cessna 150. It was my thirteenth birthday and my best friend and I were both given the flight at Springbank Airfield as a gift from a family friend. There wasn't really enough room in the plane for the three of us to fit so I just stood in awe of the other planes on the tarmac while my friend went up first. After a couple of hours it was my turn and we circled the plane a few times on foot before climbing in to do the take off check list.

Being that it was my first flight; the pilot did most of the take off procedures. After being in the air a few minutes he looked over at me and said, "OK, well why don't you take over the wheel for a little while." It was then that it struck me. The unrelenting reality of independent responsibility. The rules and gravitational laws which dictated the possibility of human flight. It was an over whelming sense of fear and self doubt. I remember looking over at him and thinking, "Who Me?!"

Cessna 150I gripped the wheel with slow hesitation; scared to push, pull, or turn the wheel the wrong way or too much. I looked at the pilot and said, "Where do I go?" He smiled and answered, "Any where you like!" In that moment my mind and body was paralyzed; transfixed solely on the destination which to me was to land safely back on the ground without crashing. The pilot looked at me again; "Just enjoy the flight."

The memories of my first flight seemed to resonate with me as I looked at the characterizations Solomon struggled with in the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes. Solomon finds this internal struggle where part of him is striving for the complexities of truth, wisdom, and the legal realities or reason for life. He desperately wants to get it right and arrive safely at the destiny or destination to which his creator so desires for him. On the opposite side he finds himself freeing his imagination in the pursuit of creative desire, passion, and the fulfillment of enjoying his life’s ambitions.

Locked between them he is paralyzed with the thought,

"What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun?... For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind." (Ecc. 2:22;26)

For Solomon it seems that all things both between the legalities of wisdom and the creative pursuits of pleasure; everything comes to the reality of striving after the wind. But why the wind? What does he mean by wind and where do we find this wind so to speak within our own sails?

In English the word wind commonly means "a natural movement of air of any velocity; especially: the earth’s air or the gas surrounding a planet in natural motion horizontally"; but Solomon wasn't really talking about the earth's wind. The Hebrew word he used was ruah which in a more liberal sense means spirit. So in a sense what Solomon was trying to say was that all things pertaining to an individual's life, whether done for wisdom or for pleasure, become an expressionism to their pursuit of spirituality. A spirituality which for all comes to a head when faced by the presence of God.

Jesus had a common saying throughout the gospels. He would often recite that, "the Kingdom of God is near." (Luke 21:31; Mark 1:15; Luke 17:21) His revelation to the Kingdoms presence though was never meant to place us in a state of fear so as to focus solely on our destination and save as many souls as possible before we go to heaven. The nearness of God's kingdom was meant to free us with the awareness that ruah is not only in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit but also in our own individual strivings for creative passionate dreams and ambitions.

In essence Jesus is our pilot and is now turning to you saying, "Why don't you take the wheel for awhile?" Where will you go? How will you express your spirit? What does your imagination tell you that you can do?" However way you choose to express your spirituality and strive for ruah remember... enjoy the flight!

"All the way to heaven is heaven." - Catherine of Siena

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A Rationale for Ecclesiastes

Some time ago I posted a poll on writing a devotional. I have been thru much over the past few months which has delayed my ability to do so until now. Admittedly, my spirits have been low as of late and so writing... or at least my desire to do so has been strained with questions of purpose, significance, and value. Needless to say I feel God pushing me to press on. I realize that of the votes cast it would seem writing on the book of Job would be logical; especially when you consider the present realities Bonnie and I find ourselves in. I still sense a desire however to look into the letter of Ecclesiastes. Maybe for no rational thought or real reason and maybe for the deeper struggle I seem to face in this moment. The deeper struggle of wondering what my purpose, significance, and meaning is in life and what truth or Truth that might hold for me.

Since I was a young boy I have always been a wonderer of truth and the reasoning behind everything. My mother would read old fables, moral driven fairy tales, and ethically driven stories to me and I never seemed to grow out of the old added question of "Why?"

I suppose that is why I have a deep appreciation for the reflections and life stories of Solomon who I have always been told and consider one of the wisest men to have ever lived. He too had a fascination with truth and wisdom even if it was a bit morbid or pessimistic at times. Perhaps wisdom is not always best understood with the constant fluffiness of optimism.

No, wisdom seems to be something else. Something which transcends simple knowledge or conceptual philosophies and yet touches and reflects off of everything that is. You might say wisdom is in existence yet... not of this existence.

I'll write more in the coming weeks.

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