My back yard is aglow with autumn leaves not yet fallen, the sun flaming their lemon yellows and pumpkin oranges with lively light. The garden is mostly put to bed for the year, with just a few carrots and potato hills to be dug. On my way to town I see wheat fields tilled and vegetable crops harvested. This season is a rewarding one for those who toil on the land.
The author of Ecclesiastes writes, “It is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labour under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 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.” (Eccl. 5:18-20 NIV)
The writer, Solomon, believes this is the best strategy to handle the universal fact that all come into this world empty-handed, and leave it the same way; to enjoy this life in the here and now, occupied with gladness of heart. Nothing much has changed since the days of Solomon, has it? The world continues to pursue possessions and pleasures, living on the horizontal without much thought for eternity.
May I suggest it is possible to recognize both? God has bountifully heaped this earth with so much to occupy me with gladness of heart. He delights in giving His child good gifts. Every recognition of these gifts, giving rise to thanksgiving to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, takes me from the horizontal to the vertical, lifting my heart upward to Him. When I am occupied with gladness of heart, then I am occupied with God.
When every day offers abundant shining moments of God-awareness, this very earth pulls me heavenward to praise and thank Him. Sunshine on my face, love light in a dear one’s eyes, joy bouncing through a child, beauty in a single flower. For me there is an organic connection. The physical gifts of God instantly link my spirit to His because He sings in every one. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:20)
From finite earth to infinite God, my thoughts soar to all He has gifted to me which cannot be perceived by the senses, but only by the spirit. These vast, indescribable gifts of forgiveness, mercy, redemption, reconciliation, eternal life and grace are realized in one Person, His son, Jesus Christ. To be occupied with Him gladdens my heart above all else.
~ But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57
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