Saturday, August 03, 2013

What's your focus?

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Ecclesiastes 2:12-26

TO CHEW ON: "Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw was from the hand of God....For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight." Ecclesiastes 2:24, 26a

I still clearly recall some of the books I read when I was a kid. One such was a set by L. M. Montgomery. Pat of Silverbush and Mistress Pat tell the story of a girl who, like her fictional cohort Anne, lives on Prince Edward Island. Pat is passionately in love with her PEI home. The setting of the story becomes almost another character as Montgomery describes the connection this character has with her home, the garden, and the tree-lined lanes and roadways of the Island.

The book had the effect of making me look at my own surroundings. No, my Saskatchewan home was nothing like the PEI idyl of the story. But I began to notice unique and wonderful things about the place I lived. I paid attention to the expansive prairie sky with its variety of cloud formations. I took note of the whisper of the poplar leaves in the Log Cabin Bush where I would sometimes sneak away to read. I can still remember the comfort of waking up to the contented clucking of chickens on a summer morning.

In the middle of his discontented railings about how pointless every aspect of earthly life is, Solomon -- the writer of Ecclesiastes -- comes up with the thought that shows how ancient is the wisdom of my childhood discovery. Solomon expresses how it is a good thing to focus on the blessings of everyday life when he says: "Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor."

Solomon brings up this idea elsewhere in Ecclesiastes too (in fact, it is considered by some to be Ecclesiastes' secondary theme):

- He speaks about how "He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time" (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11).
- He calls the ability to find joy in one's own efforts and accomplishments a "heritage" (Ecclesiastes 3:22).
- He describes the sleep of the hard worker as "sweet" (Ecclesiastes 5:12).
- His proverb "Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire," reminds us of the importance of being content with what we have (Ecclesiastes 6:9).
- He praises the value of common blessings, marital fidelity and hard work (Ecclesiastes 9:7-10).

Solomon's reminder to enjoy the blessings of each day is a timely one for me. Like him I all too easily get distracted by trying to puzzle out my role and purpose in life. Meanwhile I miss the small but innumerable gifts sent my way each day.

In fact, one of the benefits that comes from such an observant and thankful outlook may just be help with the big-picture puzzling. For the promised result of the right focus, according to wise Solomon, is the gift of "wisdom, knowledge, and joy to a man (and woman) who is good in His sight."

PRAYER: Dear God, I thank You for the blessings of my life.  Please help me to focus on Your everyday gifts to me with a full and thankful heart. Amen.

Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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