For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone? Ecclesiastes 6, verse 12.
And with that verse, another chapter is gone. With this short verse, another chapter flew by very quickly. Less than 2 weeks ago, we jumped into this chapter and now, at the start of a long work week, it’s done. Mind if I ask just what the heck good it was?
Permit me a few minutes for a minor pity party. I’m kind of sick; it’s a late summer cold and I’ve been hacking around the house for the last 5 days; could also be allergies. Really hurts to cough but there’s nothing that can be done for it. I think you could say I’m no picnic to be around this week. My son’s car is on the fritz again. The new (refurbished) water pump is, I think, bad again; I can’t rule out that I didn’t install it right when I did it a few weeks ago. I did the best I could – I’ve never done it before – but if you didn’t do it right then the best you could do isn’t good enough. The malfunctioning car has my son pretty upset, so he’s no fun to be around; I guess I can’t blame him. We are perennially tight on money this summer with many unforeseen expenses going out the door (like that water pump and wedding costs for our daughter and a hundred other small things). This has my overworked wife perennially upset and this just after her birthday this weekend. She had a good birthday, but wouldn’t you know she had to go into work all day Saturday to get things done that couldn’t be finished during the week. Last night, it all kind of blew up and we felt an angry squall blow through the house, complete with accusations, sullen hours of tense quiet, slamming doors and “you’re no joyride right now either.” Nice.
All this less happened than twenty four hours after we renewed our wedding vows. Saturday night, in front of a small group of friends, we renewed our vows, keeping a long-standing promise to promise once again to do better. It was a quickly arranged ceremony, and I didn’t contact all of our distant family or friends. For some there simply wasn’t time, but I also didn’t want the surprise to leak out. It was great, but I could have planned it better and done a better job arranging things. A joyous occasion could have been even better if I had simply done more advance work in a short amount of time.
Sometimes I really just feel like giving up, like throwing in the damn towel and walking away and this immediately after pledging my undying love and partnership. After the really great ‘highs’ of Friday and Saturday, Sunday came due and it just went to pot. We started the afternoon by watching “The Hunger Games,” which was a really uplifting family movie about teenagers slaughtering each other in post-Apocalyptic America. The dryer is busted, 3 of 3 cars in my house need some kind of major repair, I feel like crap, and I’m just DONE. Fiji is calling. Cut and run.
That’s what the deceiver wants us to do.
The deceiver wants us to think that our days here are meaningless, that the best we can do is party it up on our birthdays, then return to the fatalistic days up against the wall. Those bills will never get paid off. One thing will get fixed but another will break. Keep thinking maybe you’re sicker than you really are, or if you are sick that it’s the worst you’ve ever felt (even when it really isn’t). It doesn’t matter if you pledged your undying faithful Christ-like love just the day before: go ahead and try to twist the knife a little more because, you know, they’re wrong and you’re right!
Our therapist, Dr. Kahle, told me not long ago “the nine hardest words in any relationship are ‘I am sorry, I was wrong, please forgive me.’” Simply brilliant, don’t you think?
Yes, King Solomon was building yet another contrast with which to end this quick chapter, pointing us once again to our constant need to live our lives in God’s grace. Without His grace, without His love, our lives are meaningless and pointless. Days like yesterday are par for the course, and when the going gets tough…the tough get going. Cut and run, duck and cover, hit the road Jack. Party hard and live it up for now because you never know when the party is going to end and who the heck knows what comes next? Since we don’t know, who really gives a flip?
Yesterday morning, before the devil had his way in our house, we sat in a great service in church. We were basking in the good feeling of the night before, listening to our friend, Mark, preach about Barnabas and a living ministry of encouragement; Mark who had, just the night before, reunited us in matrimony. He said that we were made to love and encourage each other. Our purpose here isn’t to get caught up in the small stuff or to squabble about minor things, or even to let the all-too-crafty deceiver goad us time and again. He’s bigger than we are…but he isn’t better. Our purpose is to give glory to God by sharing His love and growing it. Our purpose is to encourage each other to build bridges, mend fences, and be better for God by being better for each other.
In the end, God wins. If you want to know who wins the epic battle of the ages, it isn’t the deceiver. He’s really small potatoes. Until the end of time comes, like Meatloaf, we’ll be praying for the end of time but, unlike Meatloaf, we’ll do it by staying the course and trying again. God doesn’t put bad things in our lives, but He does allow us to be confronted by obstacles, even tough and negative ones, so that we can learn to rely on Him even more. Relying on God, turning our lives over to Him: THAT is what we were made for.
It’s what we were made for on a Monday starting a new work week when I’m still not feeling one hundred percent. The pre-school awaits my wife and I’ll do my best to encourage her when it’s tough just as she’ll do her best to encourage me when a hundred small details crop up and vex me in my week. We’ll both encourage our son as we work to get his lemon of a car fixed so that it’s once again reliable. That may mean putting on yet another new water pump, but if that’s what it takes then that’s what it takes. There are errands to be done this week, doctor appointments, schedules to re-write, words to originally write, and school to prep for. Thank God for all of those things, and thank God for this life that He gives us. Where eternity matters most, that’s something worth sticking around for because the best really is yet to come.