Friday, May 18, 2012

Ecclesiastes: Fatalism, Flux, and Figs

(Introduction - "What is the Good Life?")

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

     I think I have nailed the problem: Everything is in flux, everything changes, and it’s unpredictable.  And I can’t stand unpredictability.

   I understand we must have change: One day we are born, one day we die.  One day we kill, another day we heal. One day we celebrate, another day we watch Michigan football.  One day we make war, one day we find peace. One day we marry, the next day we begin to shop. 

     There is a season for everything.  Fine. Why can’t I know what season is coming up, or why I just had the season I did?  Is it too much to ask for a “heads up”?  I know my chariot has to break down….I know I’ll probably get sick from green figs…my wives and I will disagree…my son will one day want to be king…I just want to know when.  I want to be able to prepare. I WANT PREDICTABILITY!!!!!

   God, in my clearer moments, I know you plan the right seasons of life for the right time – that predictability I complained about in nature makes that possible.  I get it.  I just wonder why you can’t show us what you have planned from the beginning to the end. The seasons of the year are predictable; why not life?
We’ve got tons of information directly from you about what seafood not to eat, and how not to yoke an ox with a donkey. Would it be too much to talk about life – specifically, my life - with me?  At this point, the best I can conclude is that people should be happy with what they have. It is what it is. My friends don’t have answers, and neither do politicians. No one can help anyone else understand what’s to come.

   I used to be  angry at how futile and unfair life is; now, I’m just a fatalist.

   (New T-shirt idea:  It will say, “I’m with hebel” and have arrows pointing all around.)

Ecclesiastes 3: 12-22

   I’ve been trying hard to find a way to live a meaningful life in spite of how I am feeling about everything.

      Here is what I have seen to be good, to my best definition of good:  eating, drinking wine, and enjoying our lives during the few brief years you have given us; as far as I can tell, this is our reward in this life.  If you allow people to have stuff, you must want them to enjoy it.  It’s a reward for hard work.  This isn’t a bad thing; it’s a gift from you. And since we can’t take it with us, we might as well enjoy it now.

      If we can just embrace what we are given, and focus our attention on what’s right in front of us, we won’t worry about what’s going to happen, or how long we have to live.

  Maybe this is how you offset our ignorance about life.  You wants us to enjoy life, to seize the day and the things in it.  For whatever reason, You can’t let us see everything you see – but you expect us to enjoy what we have.  Anything less would be…uncivilized. And let’s be honest, I kind of like this approach, because I have a lot of stuff.

     God, you give us a few unpredictable years. I’m still not happy about that “unpredictable,” but I’ll take the years and enjoy what I’ve got.

(Wow, that T-shirt really tanked.  I’m thinking of another bumper sticker, “Life is like a box of fig dates – sweet.  Or rotten.  Eat em’ up anyway.”)
(UP NEXT:  "If it makes you happy, why are you so sad?")

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