Are you looking for a New Year’s resolution? How about Ecclesiastes 9:7
Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
David Gibson does a wonderful job elaborating on this passage in his book, Living Life Backwards. He shares,
“This verse is actually the book of Ecclesiastes in a nutshell.”
Ecclesiastes? Isn’t that the depressing book about the vanity of life? In some ways, yes. But Gibson shares…
“He [the Preacher] wrote his book to smash into tiny pieces our idea that we can be like God. We aspire to have it all, know it all, do it all, achieve it all, be happy forever, have all the answers, never be left scratching our head, and be remembered by all for all time.“
I imagine our pursuit of life like entering a vast house. We are taking turn after turn, opening door after door, looking for happiness. Each path seems promising at first, only to vastly disappoint. Nothing fulfills. Nothing sustains.
The problem is we’ve entered the wrong house. The sign on the gate said “Creator.” It doesn’t fit, doesn’t work, because we don’t fit. Had we chosen the entrance gate that was marked “Created,” what would we expect to find? It depends on our view of God.
The Preacher declares – Life is gift, not gain, received, not earned. And what a giver God is!!
One of the blessings of travel is experiencing new tastes, sights and smells. The ones around us are rich, but they are familiar. I needed non-residents to tell me how green Maryland is. After a while, I don’t see it.
Traveling south we came across a fruit stand called “Robert is Here.” Look it up on the web. It’s fascinating. Robert specializes in unusual and exotic fruits. Have you ever tasted Black Sapote? You don’t eat it till it’s soft and black inside. It tastes like chocolate pudding! What about Guanabana? Some call it Soursop. It’s amazing! I am waiting for the Canistel I purchased to ripen. Supposedly it tastes like creamy egg custard.
I found it startling to gaze up close at the colors of a Toucan or Macaw, to witness the graceful aerodynamic ability of a pelican, or the symmetry and iridescent beauty of a conch shell. What about coral blue waters, Spanish Moss covered oaks, warm sunrises… Why all this beauty? Sit down… it’s for us. It’s for you. Life is gift!
Gibson clarifies this enjoyment of the created from the worship of the created: “in the created world, you can only truly enjoy what you do not worship.” I can still remember exploring Luray Caverns with my friend Tom Gallagher four decades ago. His exclamations of “Wow!” “Look at that!” “Isn’t that amazing?!?” made those caverns shine with a brilliance I’ve not seen matched since.
Beauty enjoyed glorifies God. Beauty relished and proclaimed magnifies the one who provided it. As Gibson says: “God takes pleasure in your pleasure.”
Still not convinced? Check out a description of what it means to obey the voice of the Lord, the reason God gives for sending curses on his people:
Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things… – Deut. 28:47
He is Creator. I am Created. I want to “lean into” being created this year, fill my days with thanks and praise, and live as present and as fully as I can.