GOD'S GIFT OF JOY

I was driving to school recently, on the highway as I usually do, yet this particular trip was a bit different. You see, I’m always listening to music – or something – but I didn’t have my iPhone charger cable with me. I left it at home. I forgot the thing. C’mon, man.

I was already running late, so by the time I realized that I had forgotten something, there was no turning back. I was forced to take the 17 minute drive in complete silence. Now, when you are forced to sit in silence, with nothing to distract your thoughts, with no lyrics to paint pictures in your mind or remind you of people or take you to places, the opposite thing begins to happen. Instead of all of these things filling your mind, everything in your mind that was already down deep comes swimming (sometimes clawing) its way up to the surface.

SILENCE HAS THIS FUNNY WAY OF BEING VERY LOUD.

But not necessarily in a negative sense. When we are forced to sit with our minds and our thoughts, we often find the most beautiful gems buried deep within us. It takes silence to dig up; a very serene stillness to unearth.

So, in silence, I was driving to school. And then, the most amazing thing began to happen. It was as if my senses were being heightened. I actually looked around, in deep observation of everything going on around me (while still focused on driving, so no worries). I saw the other human beings and their cars around me and on the opposite side of the highway. I felt my hands and my body on this vehicle I was in; I felt my inhales and my exhales. I saw brake lights in front of me flash on and off periodically. I heard my car engine roaring and the tires spinning over and over again on the pavement. I actually noticed how good the little tree that was hanging from my rear view mirror really does smell. I tasted my coffee, probably more vividly than ever before.

ALL BECAUSE OF SILENCE

I began to experience the burning bushes that were all around me. I could actually feel the music that was here, all along. I had this very overwhelming sense of how connected this whole thing is: everything going on around me, around us, all together, in rhythm, in time. And the most intriguing and sensational aspect of the whole experience was this deep and intense joy that I felt in that moment. Just joy because I was alive. Joy because I was in deep prayer and contemplation of God. Joy because my whole being was set on Him alone. Joy because I was experiencing His glorious mystery that is everywhere and that floods this place if we take the time to notice.

I think it’s this type of joy that we are called to have in the book of Ecclesiastes. If we take a step back, we see that rhythm is everywhere, written and designed into everything. And because of that, nothing ultimately is the same, or even lasts forever, and everything on this earth will have an end. Every hardship, hurt, and worry. All riches and wealth. Any type of status, be it upper class or poor. All things will have an ultimate end.

TIME AND SEASONS

The teacher in Ecclesiastes writes that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

A time for this, a time for that.

A season for this, a season for that.

Every thing, vapor.

In Ecclesiastes, the things that are vapor are referred to as “meaningless,” even.

So, it comes down to this: We can look at that truth or that reality, that all things are vapor, and let that really disappoint us and make us quite sad or hopeless. Or, it can liberate us and allow us to more fully live in the now; to more fully appreciate all that is going on around us; it can allow us to dwell on what is eternal; we can set our hearts on Him, who is forever unchanging.

So check this out - after the teacher in Ecclesiastes has seen and experienced it all, he goes on to write and say these words:

So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them? - Ecclesiastes 3:22

And he goes on to say:

Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart. - Ecclesiastes 5:19-20

God gives us the ability to enjoy our lot in life, no matter what that is: our work, our demands, our possessions, our wealth, etc. But, He gives us these things so that we may not dwell on them (because they are all vapor), but instead, so that we may use them for His Kingdom,so that we may find Him and worship Him in all that we are and do. He is eternal and forever unchanging. So let us set our hearts on Him. That is where the gift of joy is found.