I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3, verses 12 and 13.
Repeat after me: God is good. Say that again and again. Maybe you could even make it a mantra; long as you say it with meaning, there is zero harm in that and nothing but good can come of it.
Say it over and over because 1. it’s true and, 2. this is the book of Ecclesiastes, whose theme is that all things worldly are meaningless without God. Keep saying that phrase because you know that sometime, just up the road, there will be more verses talking about how awful the human condition is sans Deo.
For now, the phrase will be good enough because God is good enough. He is always enough. Indeed, He’s really much more than enough and more abundant than we can imagine possible. He’s so good that he provides millions of daily miracles that happen all around us just so we can get through what is called “today.” If you don’t believe that, just try to imagine how things would be if the Sun didn’t rise. Life as we know it would immediately cease. Or think about a day without birds. It wouldn’t take long for the bugs to get unmanageable, even for the best equipped Orkin man. Or think about a day without greenery all around you. Um, we exhale tons of carbon dioxide (which the US Government calls ‘a pollutant;’ go figure) that all these green plants just happen to use as food. What they exude is oxygen, which you and I need more than cold beer or country music. Sunlight, stars, safety on the road, clean clothes, water, food, friendships, smiles, internet news, comfortable shoes, jokes and humor, iPhones and iPods, electricity, fresh meat, and whole TV channels that refuse to show anything starring Roseanne Barr: like I said, millions of little miracles that help sustain us and get us through each day. How many did you take for granted yesterday? If you’re like me, a ream of paper wouldn’t be enough to list them all.
So for now, let’s not focus on that and focus instead on the greatest miracle of all: forgiveness. God forgave you and me all those times when we’ve taken for granted all the small and big miracles He gives us. He forgave us of so much more than that, too. Think up the worst thing you could ever do – or have ever done – and then consider the Son smiling at you and holding out His arms to say “none of that matters anymore.” Forgiveness. Check it out and get in touch with it because it’s an amazing miracle and gift to be given. Even better, it’s amazing to get to share it! That whole ‘doing good’ this verse mentions is a wonderful thing. It spreads good will, it breeds smiles, it is what good people want to do for each other. You know that starts with forgiveness.
And it’s so amazing because it is the gift at the center of this verse. It’s like Christmas in June (which, if you’re interested, is an outreach run by my church…check out http://www.watersedgefrisco.com). If God were Allah, he would be vengeful, waiting to stomp on miserable little you or me for all the times we’ve fallen short of his divine strength. If God were the US Government, he would mess things up even with the best of intentions. If God were anything other than what He is (which is pure love, pure justice, pure knowledge, and pure holy life) he wouldn’t be God. How does He show He loves us? He sent the part of Himself who is His Son to die so that we could be forgiven of all the times we’ve messed things up. Us, not Him: we’ve made the mistakes, yet He reached across eternity and met us where we are.
Admit it, too: you’ve messed up a few times. I know I have, more than these words have ever told, and more than I’m even likely to tell this side of the River Jordan. I’m trying to do better, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. Thank Him that He’s standing there with those open arms, ya know? Thank Him that He says “I forgive you” and then sends me back into the world to try again. Even better, He sends me here to take some time to enjoy His creation, those millions of subtle miracles and then some. I GET TO come back here to eat, drink and derive enjoyment from what I do! And even better than that, I get to do these things learning to be better by letting Him lead and teach me. According to these verses, this is the best the world has to offer, and God wants you and me to have the best and THEN some.
How cool is that?
Today is a fresh, new day. It’s the first day of summer. Today isn’t yesterday which was full of all those things you didn’t do right as well as the successes you did. And it isn’t tomorrow, which is still an unwritten page. Today is here and now, and this verse is recognizing that, as a gift from Him, you and I get to enjoy it, make the most of it, share a little bit of Him in it. When we do so, we’re actually worshipping; have you ever considered that? Before all the bad things that could happen, there are the oh-so-many good things that have. And good things could happen too. They will, in fact, if you first seek God and ask Him to lead the way. There’s no time like the present, and a new day awaits us. How about we start it out right?
And a good way to start is by saying it again: God is good. God is very good indeed.