September 30, 2010

Same Old Thing

Does it seem like life is cyclical and that we are all just living the same hard circumstances every so many years? And that our happy times are sandwiched between complete despair or that things just worked out for us for a little while? Life seems like that to me at times and even Solomon analyzed the meaningless of life in the book of Ecclesiastes. He despaired over his wealth because he would have to leave it to his progeny that didn't earn it and may not be able to maintain it. He lamented his hard work for the time lost. He regretted his pleasures because they did not last. Cycles can be discouraging. But seasons can mark our progress.

"I know that there is nothing better than for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in his toil- this is the gift of God." Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

We know from Solomon's wisdom and the counsel of God's Word that the life in the Lord is the only option that is not meaningless. When we ask, "what is the point?" He answers, "God does it so that man will revere him." (v.14)

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion on the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

When we are on the treadmill and do not see the point anymore, we need to look back at the itinerary that we have already completed. He is moving us in the direction of that satisfaction that we all seek. He wired us to work for that. Work alone will leave us overwhelmed. Not working leaves us depressed. The missing piece is satisfaction. Rooted in a fear of the Lord -that awe will lead us to that list of Spirit fruit in Galatians 5- we can see the path again.

The Holy Spirit has been showing me that the Christian life is not cyclical, but seasonal. Yes, we may feel that we've seen the season of fall or winter or spring. But we've never been here. This year is a stretch of road we have not walked. We are older and wiser. We grew. We opened up our hearts. We repented. We changed.
Hopefully we changed.

There are usually two roads, and I need to stay on the one less travelled. But we can not fall for the discouragement gimmick that this financially hard time is just like last time. Or this disappointment is the same old thing. It's probably not. If we are pursuing the Lord, we are moving forward. This stretch of land may seem familiar, because challenges are all. . .challenging. Difficulties are difficult. The adjectives may be the same, but the nouns and verbs have changed.

Guarding our thoughts is the tried and true way to avoid the same old road. Temptation to sin comes at us all day. When we have a little idea, a sinful suggestion, we can set it aside and choose life. Or it will choose to visit us throughout that day or move in for the whole season. And soon we find ourselves believing that lie. It just seems so familiar; it must be true.

We can start drowning in thoughts that nothing is ever going to change for us. But in reality, the only same old thing that never changes is God's investment in us: He showed His love among us; He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. (I John 4:9) This is not a faraway, fairy tale, hard to imagine, kind of love. This is a lifestyle of being loved and protected.

Walk on, Loved One.

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