“Even if someone lived a thousand years—make it two thousand!—but didn’t enjoy anything, what’s the point? Doesn’t everyone end up in the same place? We work to feed our appetites; Meanwhile our souls go hungry.” Ecclesiasates 6:6-7
“So, who has a God-sighting to share? Anyone? Come on, I know you have…”
That’s how I typically start small group meetings anytime I’m leading.
Sometimes I am more direct, leaving no wiggle room to keep quiet. “I know every last one of us has run into God over the past few days, let’s go around the circle and hear from everyone.”
The issue isn’t if God has been present, the issue is, “have we been paying attention?”
My “God-sighting” story:
This week when it was my turn I talked about lunchtime just a few hours earlier. Rebekah came in and went straight for her Bible on the dining room table.
“Listen to what I was reading this morning!” she said. Then she read an amazing passage from Isaiah 56 – verses 1-8.
The content of the text is quite remarkable and one day I may write a series of posts based on our conversation. But for now, the “God moment” that’s on my mind is the beauty of sharing lunch with Rebekah, talking excitedly about the scriptures, finding other references that shed light on what we were reading. As we enjoyed lunch together we were animated by God’s word, by our shared faith, and by our commitment to follow Jesus.
Rich in God:
Later that evening, deep in conversation about the content of Ecclesiastes 6 with my friends at church, I asked, “what is it that makes life good for you, that makes you feel that you are rich in the way God intends for us to be rich?”
The context was a passage that talks about people who fail to enjoy life, letting the grace of goodness essentially go to waste.
Again, I immediately thought about my lunch with Rebekah. There is no amount of money, no luxury, no accolade, no acquisition of power or privilege that could come close to the beauty and the satisfaction of an encouraging and affirming relationship rooted in God’s kind of love.
There is no amount of money, no luxury, no accolade, no acquisition of power or privilege that could come close to the beauty and the satisfaction of an encouraging and affirming relationship rooted in God’s kind of love.
The answer key to Ecclesiastes:
There are two truths running like golden threads throughout the book of Ecclesiastes. They are the key to navigating the cynicism and sense of futility many readers get stuck in. The first is this: “Everything that is true and good and worth the effort is found in God; the fact of God and God’s goodness is the central truth in life.” The second is our response: “It is good to enjoy the grace of goodness; we have been given the opportunity to work hard and to take pleasure in life – just remember God is The One we worship.”
So long as we understand what is important we are free to enjoy both our labor and the fruit of our labor – because then we are not “chasing the wind.”
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that we get these two things in the right order and that we move beyond an academic appreciation of this truth and into the light and the grace of a living relationship with Jesus.
- It’s all about God and God’s invitation
- When we accept the invitation we are free to enjoy life
When we have #1 and #2 in order, then what we do with the goodness we enjoy becomes a “fruit of the Spirit” kind of a thing, and – in the words of God’s covenant with Abraham – because of us “all the peoples of the world will be blessed…” (Genesis 22:18)
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.