It’s been over four years since I’ve written a blog on here. The last one was back in March of 2017 which was just a little update on hanging with some friends and enjoying time together as a family. But even as I look back and read that post I’m reminded that life has been full these past few years. From leaving Czech Republic to taking on the current role I’ve maintained as the youth pastor here for the past five and a half years, it’s just been full. Full of learning, growing, changing, adjusting, and trying to honor the Lord through parenting and pastoring. All of those things are good things and challenging things, but they make life flat out busy. Between rearing four children and caring for my family to preaching/teaching weekly and caring for the flock of God, it’s easy for me to miss the basic things…like enjoyment. That’s why I needed 2020.
When we all went indoors during the initial lockdowns, I was in the middle of figuring out what my next teaching series was going to be to the high school students. Figuring out what to teach next is often difficult for me so I began to read and study the book of Ecclesiastes because I wanted to dive into the wisdom literature. Little did I know that it was going to be one of the most challenging and yet most rewarding studies I think I have done to date. For in that weird, misunderstood, wonderful, mysterious book was the simple thought that I didn’t know I needed at the time. It was this: enjoy your life.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God,Ecclesiastes 2:24
It took me over six weeks of study to finally see it. I must be dense! How do you miss that? We are to find enjoyment in this life, but he problem for us is this takes faith. Solomon says that enjoyment is “from the hand of God.” King Solomon spends the first two chapters of Ecclesiastes showing all the different things he tried to find ultimate enjoyment in but they left him wanting. Why? Because enjoyment comes from God, not from our self-willed pursuit of it. Don’t believe me? Look at chapter 3.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.Ecclesiastes 3:12-13
So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?Ecclesiastes 3:22
Enjoy your dinner. Rejoice in your work. Enjoy your life. This is Solomon’s regular refrain throughout the book of Ecclesiastes. But why?! Because life is “vanity” says Solomon. “Vanity of vanities!” is also his refrain, but when we read that in English we think he’s just giving up on life and that’s not it all! Actually, what Solomon is saying is that life is short, it’s an enigma, and it’s frustrating. We can’t control it! It’s like grabbing at smoke. That’s what life is like! So you had better enjoy it because you’ll only frustrate yourself thinking you can control it.
That was the truth I needed to hear in 2020. And it’s been the truth I’ve needed to hear in 2021. Hasn’t life been a little crazy lately? Hasn’t life felt out of control? From our vantage point, for sure. Sickness, death, political turmoil, social issues, church leaders falling like flies, etc. etc. etc. Almost all of those issues Ecclesiastes addresses–especially the issue of death. Solomon is quick to remind us how short life is… which is yet another reason to get all the enjoyment you can out of it.
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lotEcclesiastes 5:18
But from God’s perspective, everything is under his control. Nothing is out of sorts. Nothing is out of control. In fact, he’s “made everything beautiful in its time” (3:11). At the same time, he doesn’t always show us what he’s doing…and that’s OK, he’s God.
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
But what does this have to do with being busy? Here’s been my simple take away from all of it: the command is clear, I’m to enjoy my life. Whatever I’m doing, from playing games with my kids to spending time with my wife to preaching to yardwork to sickness to… you name it. Find a way, by the grace of God, to enjoy it. Because when I do, God get’s the glory because I’m in his perfect and good will by obeying him and ultimately enjoying him. So I’m too busy for that, then I’ve got a problem. If my schedule is too packed and I find myself frustrated and short with people because of the daily pressure, then I’m out of balance. I need to come back and ask God for help in enjoying these days because I really don’t know how many more I will get.
In a way, that was just all introduction to explain why I wanted to dust off the blog and start writing something again. Not because I think I’m some incredible writer, I know I’m not. It’s just because I enjoy it. I enjoy the sound of the keys clicking. I enjoy trying to find a good title. I enjoy the simple act of trying to put things into words–even if it’s not always clear when it comes out! I enjoy making space to reflect on what God is doing in my own heart. So I hope as I commit to writing a little more in the days ahead that it will be a blessing and maybe others can find some enjoyment of their own.