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Extraordinary Times

01 Jan

We live in a time of unprecedented discoveries, many of which tend to make life longer and living more comfortable and enjoyable. But with change and progress the inexorable law of change and decay also operates. Strange that so few in this world prepare for the inevitable. 

Henri J. Nouwen is credited with a profound statement: Sometimes I think of life as a big wagon wheel with many spokes. In the middle is the hub. Often in ministry, it looks like we are running around the rim trying to reach everybody. But God says, “Start in the hub; live in the hub. Then you will be connected with all the spokes, and you won’t have to run so fast.” [2]

If we make that choice, we might prefer to adopt the positive lifestyle of Jeanne Hendricks, who said that “Living is not a spectator sport.  No one, at any price, is privileged to sit in the stands and watch the action from a distance.  Being born means being a participant in the arena of life, where opposition is fierce and winning comes only to those who exert every ounce of energy. “

Or perhaps we like the Yiddish Proverb: “Life is the biggest bargain.  We get it for nothing.”

One of the many outlooks we need to pursue is the one by Solomon offered in the much-overlooked book of Ecclesiastes. It’s often presented as a book for those in their 20’s to help them avoid coming mistakes or one for those in their 50’s due to their coming “midlife crisis.” It seems certain that this wise and powerful king seemed to go through one.

make-today-extraordinaryIn his Unfolding Message of the Bible, G. Campbell Morgan perfectly summarizes Solomon’s outlook: “This man had been living through all these experiences under the sun, concerned with nothing above the sun … until there came a moment in which he had seen the whole of life. And there was something over the sun. It is only as a man takes account of that which is over the sun as well as that which is under the sun that things under the sun are seen in their true.[3]

    Since it is one of the Old Testament wisdom books, Ecclesiastes would have something to say about both wisdom and folly. There are at least thirty-two references to “fools” and “folly” and at least fifty-four to “wisdom.” King Solomon was the wisest of men (1 Kings 4:31) and he applied this wisdom as he sought to understand the purpose of life “under the sun.” The Preacher sought to be a philosopher, but in the end, he had to conclude, “Fear God, and keep His commandments” (12:13).

Because we live so close to the biblical text, we often fail to note its power to summon and evoke new life. The Bible is our firm guarantee that prophetic construal of another world are still possible, still worth doing, still longingly received by those living at the edge of despair, resignation, and conformity.[4]

John Locke once said, “The Bible is one of the greatest blessings bestowed by God on the children of man. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth without mixture for its matter. It is all pure; all sincere; nothing too much; nothing wanting.”

———————-

[2] Henri J. Nouwen in “Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry”, Leadership (Spring 1995).  Christianity Today, Vol. 40, no. 13.

[3] Fleming H. Revell Company, 1961, p. 229.

[4] Walter Brueggemann, Finally Comes the Poet, in Christianity Today, “Reflections,” Vol. 44, no. 9.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2018 in Encouragement

 

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