July 2009 

July Devotional

Thank you, God for the joys and wonders of life! -- Sparkling fireworks and sticky cotton candy. Sweet cherry popsicles and tart pink lemonade in the shade. Burgers smoking on the grill and wobbly bobbers with nibbling fish on the line. Ahh, the many delights of summer – and of life itself. Celebrate it! It’s a grand gift that has been generously poured out to us daily.


But, Oh, Lord – why do you allow the agony and frustrations of life? -- Steaming radiators overflowing on a blazing hot engine.  Athlete’s foot, kids screaming at each other, and last minute projects ordered by a cranky boss.  It’s after five … and you’re tired … and worn out.  What happened to the fun, the joy and the pleasures of life?  Sometimes it all seems so meaningless.


The writer of Ecclesiastes felt the same.  In wise verse and profound proverbs, he captures the ecstatic bliss of life’s pleasures along with the seemingly pointlessness of everyday existence.  If you think about it, there is a certain weirdness to life.  We somehow endure the minutia and mundane while fervently seeking to capture and hold onto the precious seconds of our existence.


But when you’re cleaning the toilet or paying bills, it’s hard to get excited about living on planet Earth.  At times it can feel like a complete waste of time.  Add in the devastation of divorce, the insanity of illness, and endless struggle for significance and security and you have the difficult and bizarre world of irony in which we live – and a taste of what the writer of Ecclesiastes was feeling.


The author of this little but insightful book (probably King Solomon) wrestles with this quandary.  How do we balance the enjoyment of life with the emptiness we often feel?  How can we embrace our fleeting reality and monumental potential when they will so quickly pass?  Perhaps you’ve asked these questions too.


Sometimes the Bible stuns us with the idea that our simple lives matter at all.  After all, God took the time to make us, and did so us in his image.  Why bother if we – and life – weren’t important?  His reason for making us was pure:  he wanted to shower us with his love so we could enjoy a relationship with him – the God of the universe.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  No wonder Job wrote (and David echoed in the Psalms), “What is man that you should take notice of us?” (Job 17:7; Psalm 144:3) and “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!” (Psalm 139:17)  Over and over again in scripture we are reminded of God’s focus on and attention to us; his unfailing love, patience, and faithfulness toward us; and his gracious provision of everything we need for life – not the least of which is his very own presence.


Despite the world’s apathy toward this amazing gift and overt, continuous rebellion toward God, he has not rejected us.  God didn’t leave us to our own devices (although we certainly have devised many ways to avoid him.)  Instead, God patiently endures through our selfishness and the annoying quality we possess which believes we are always right and the center of the universe.  (Clue bus:  We’re not.)


Then God did the most outrageous thing of all – he showed incomprehensible and unmatched love for us by sending his only son Jesus to die on our behalf, long before we realized we even needed his sacrifice.  Isn’t that a mindbender of preponderous portions!  And through that passionate love, He gave us eternal life and a powerful reason to live every day here to its fullest, even the ordinary and boring parts.


These shocking facts compel me to realize that life has to be more than a cool purple cell phone and super-sizing it at Sonic.  Instead, they are a powerful reason and ever-present reminder of why we should value every moment we have.  If life is that important to God, it must obviously has great meaning for us as well.


Though the Bible calls our lives a fleeting breath of wind and tells us not to load up on material possessions or fall in love with this life, we are still instructed to enjoy life to its fullest.  These seemingly contradictory thoughts are harmonized by balancing the temporal nature of earthly life with its eternal ramifications.  How we respond to God and his overtures of love here will decide where we will spend our forever-life.  We have limited time now to prepare ourselves and others for the never-ending time we will have with God in heaven.   Those who don’t believe and accept Jesus as savior and Lord won’t experience his love forever.  It’s that simple and that profound -- and that stark realization compels us to make the most of what time we have here.


As painful and difficult as this life may be, we can truly be glad because there is wonderful joy ahead.  Although it is necessary for us to endure many trials for a while, these challenges improve our character and remind us of Jesus’ sacrifice.  While the reality of sin has distorted the perfect life God intended for us on earth, he has extended to us an offer to enjoy an ideal life once we finish our time here.  And while dealing with other people may be our greatest challenge and frustration, they are also deeply loved by God and need to hear about that love and invitation for eternal life so they can enjoy it too.


Our purpose for living can be summed up in these words …


  • John 14:1, 6 – “Don’t be troubled.  You trust God, now trust in me. … I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one can come to the Father except through me.” 


  • Psalm 39:4-5 - “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered and that my life is fleeing away…existence is but a breath.” 


  • Ecclesiastes 8:15 – “So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life.  That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them.”


  • John 10:10 – The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.


  • Romans 8:28 –And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.


  • Matthew 28:19 – “Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Father, thank you for giving us this fleeting but amazing life.  Help us to live it wisely, thanking you daily for this astonishing gift, while faithfully endeavoring to share that gift and your love with others, despite the obstacles.  Don’t let us give up when overwhelming struggles, ordinary tasks, and obnoxious people frustrate us.  Give us your perspective and a loving, patient, energized heart to live and love as Jesus did.  And help us really enjoy life’s beauty while respecting its brevity.   We thank you so much.  Amen.


Now start up the grill and let the fireworks begin!