Spring days bring windy afternoons and last week was no exception around our humble abode. As the wind moved the branches on the trees and repositioned last fall’s leftover leaves, it also cast it’s influence over my sweet little granddaughter by reminding her of the kite we had all ready to go in Papaw’s workshop. She quickly and excitedly brought this to my attention and we wasted no time in retrieving the colorful contraption and headed toward the large field behind the house. No sooner had we positioned ourselves to launch her kite, as if on cue… the wind stopped! At first it was an unnecessary hindrance, but as the minutes dragged on it became apparent we were without the most important ingredient for successful kite flying. And that would be WIND! It’s my observation that what five-year-old girls possess in energy they lack in patience! Kairi lasted all of oh… 30-40 seconds before she began to speak to the wind. As the prophet Ezekiel, moved by the voice of God this little bundle of joy began to boldly call out to the wind with vigor and then in a more demanding tone but alas, twas not to be! The wind had gone and all that was left for us to do was pack up the aforementioned kite and move on to other yard excursions such as picking flowers or chasing butterflies. All good choices, by the way. What occurred to me as I reflect back on our little kite flying adventure is that we are not the first to chase the wind, neither will we be the last!
The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, as short as it is, is one of the most mysterious works in the Bible. It looms before us an incredibly unique part of Hebrew literature, with its knotty, unresolved struggles intermingled with its unanswered arguments and cynical observations of life. Its content marks a decided departure from the orthodox, a bold and even imprudent alienation from Jehovah … and yet in a few verses, we read strong words in defense of a life devoted to the living Lord. Listen to a few selected verses from the opening chapter… “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem. Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever…That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after. I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind… “Look, I have attained greatness, and have gained more wisdom than all who were before me in Jerusalem. My heart has understood great wisdom and knowledge.” And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.” It’s looks as if Solomon, even the wisest man who ever lived experienced what it was like chasing the wind!
The book of Ecclesiastes, I’ve heard it said… it’s for folks who live in the trenches down there where it’s dark and dirty and full of responsibility, where the grit of reality mixed with the grind of accountability that holds people’s feet to the fire. It’s for real people who cannot free themselves from the demands of competition or escape the pressures of deadlines. No matter where you live, it isn’t long before you realize that you’re back on the ragged edge of reality. Solomon, David’s brilliant son who followed his dad as king of Israel, came to realize that nothing is worthwhile… everything is futile. So, what’s to learn from such a man? What practical wisdom can we take away from his writings?
Let’s consider three quick observations… First, Human ability alone cannot guarantee lasting success: The competitive world tells Christians to keep our faith private. But God is God, and success ultimately comes from His hand. Secondly, we always hear that strength is more impressive, yet it’s incredibly ineffective compared to wisdom: Christians must turn to God’s Word to guide us in mundane decisions such as jobs or finances. Lastly, Wise counsel is sometimes unpopular, but worth remembering: Be wise, seek God’s will, and walk by the Spirit, but don’t expect to be patted on the back. Winds may come and go but I believe it’s what we do with what’s happening in the moment based on God’s wisdom that will matter.
Tim Throckmorton is the former Executive Pastor of the Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace Ohio and the Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio. He is currently the Senior Pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.ReachReach
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