Monday, September 07, 2015

A time for down-sizing

Cluttered bookshelf
Photo from
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

TO CHEW ON: "To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven: …
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away." Ecclesiastes 3:1-6

I love the catalogue of times in Ecclesiastes 3:1-9. It helps us view the ebb and flow of life's activities philosophically. However, that perspective can be negative or positive.

It's easy to view this list fatalistically, coming as it does, after the Preacher's depressing observations that he will have to leave his hard work to the man who comes after him (Ecclesiastes 2:18); that the person who doesn't work gets the benefit of it (Ecclesiastes 2:21); and his sum-up complaint "This (all the above-mentioned and more) also is vanity and grasping for the wind" (Ecclesiastes 2:26). We're simply going through the motions of a life whose end is already fixed.

Or we can read these verses as the Preacher's answer to the question about life that he's already raised. As the Asbury Bible Commentary puts it:

"Since all has been determined by God, life has purpose and meaning. Since God has set a time for everything, a sense of security results. The continual movements of life do not need to be viewed as meaningless.

'Instead of changelessness, there is something better: a dynamic, divine purpose, with its beginning and end. Instead of frozen perfection, there is the kaleidoscopic movements of innumerable processes, each with its own character and its period of blossoming and ripening; beautiful in its time and contributing to the over-all masterpiece which is the work of our Creator' (Kidner, 39).

From this perspective, then, God's actions are not simply arbitrary, but appropriate, and not simply confining, but releasing." - Asbury Bible Commentary, accessed through  "Study This."

I like this perspective, especially the quote within the quote which I've bolded.

The reason I chose to focus on the last part of Ecclesiastes 3:6 today is because I'm currently (and perpetually, it seems) downsizing—thinking about what to keep and what to throw away. Hard decisions must be made in this season of life. It helps to know that what I'm doing is biblical. It even becomes poetic.

The saving of all my stuff was the blossoming. The keeping and storing of it for years and years was the ripening. Now it's time to harvest—to decide what gets to stay, what is chaff, and what others will have a chance to own.

PRAYER: Dear God, I'm so glad that You're in charge—not only of my life but the world. Help me to trust You with my times. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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