What were you doing a year ago? Whatever it was, I’m sure none of us imagined we would be where we are right now, a year later. So, who knows what a year from now will hold?
I was curious about what theme I had addressed a year ago in the Monday Morning Minute. Below is from April 19, 2019. With a little bit of updating it is still applicable today. Strangely so . . .
Mondays and coffee go together like peanut butter and bananas, BBQs and ribs, and motorcycles and curvy roads. They are all better together.
The community of faith, too, is better together. But there are seasons when "together" looks different. As we approach the summer season, we will experience a redistribution lockdown of God's people. The opportunities to enjoy trailers, cottages, trips, camping, hikes, beaches, canoes (and of course, motorcycles) will be limited but are gifts from God. It means we will be together but with different people with our families – a lot. That can be a good thing!
Solomon helps us build a context for enjoying these good things. First, he reminds us that there are seasons to life, and these seasons are defined by God (Ecc. 3:1-8 - remember the song by The Byrds?). We cannot control these "seasons" or phases of life; only God can. This is intentional, that we would fear Him:
I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men
with which to occupy themselves.
He has made everything appropriate in its time.
He has also set eternity in their heart,
yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done
from the beginning even to the end.
I know that everything God does will remain forever;
there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it,
for God has so worked that men should fear Him.
(Ecc 3:10-11, 14 NASB)
Not only are these opportunities gifts from God, but the ability to enjoy them is His gift too! Solomon warns us against the deception of thinking we are getting what we deserve, or we are self-made people. Because we live in a broken world, and our sin nature constantly pursues "to be like God" (independence from God), we can easily be deceived into thinking that we are the author of our own good fortunes.
In the larger context of Ecclesiastes, Solomon's point is that our focus should not on the "seasons" in their diversity, but in the God who appoints the seasons. Solomon warns against equating good times with being blessed, and hard times meaning God is unhappy with us. Rather, God is purposeful in ordering the events of our lives so we will acknowledge our dependence on Him:
In the day of prosperity be happy,
But in the day of adversity consider--
God has made the one as well as the other
So that man will not discover anything that will be after him.
(Ecc 7:14 NASB)
In the New Testament, James reminds us every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). Oh, and we should probably remember that James' comment comes in the context of suffering . . . (like being in a socially-distanced, locked down environment? No, this isn’t the kind of suffering James is referring to. But God is still working to express His goodness.)
Those in the Kingdom of God means will experience seasons of disadvantage and suffering, some of God's people more than others. God is still on the throne and will demonstrate His goodness in every season of life. For now, those of us living here in Canada are experiencing many, many good gifts from God. Enjoy them, regardless of Coronavirus! Yet, let us be careful. Moses warned the ancient Israelites that God's good gifts may cause them to forget the God who gave them (Deut. 6:11). Psalm 77 teaches us that God does good things so we will remember Him, especially when the season we are in is a tough one.
Solomon closes Ecclesiastes with this final piece of advice:
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is:
fear God and keep His commandments,
because this applies to every person.
For God will bring every act to judgment,
everything which is hidden,
whether it is good or evil.
(Ecc 12:13-14 NASB)
So, if when you scatter socially distance this summer from the Q50 Community of faith, enjoy the opportunities God gives you. Represent Him well and encourage those around You to see and know His grace. Remind them that our God is a good God, and all that He does is goodness (Psa. 119:65-67). Enjoy the goodness of God!