Monday, March 27, 2023

Are We Richer Than Solomon?

Let me start by giving you some advice. Don't read Ecclesiastes if you are depressed. I'm reading through the Bible this year and knocked out this book a few days ago in my quiet time unaware that later in the day I'd receive some sad news. Of course I had no way of knowing that, but I'm just saying, maybe skip it. I'll sum it up for you. There's a season to everything but overall there's nothing new under the sun, everything is pointless, then you die and other people get your stuff. 

Also a summation of every estate sale you've ever been to. 

If you haven't read it in a while you might remember it being beautiful and poetic, uplifting even. That's probably because in the sixties the Byrds took the coolest part of the book and made it into a song. 

Turn, Turn, Turn. 

You can hear it now, right?

Solomon, who as you will recall was on a lifelong quest for wisdom which he asked God for, comes up with advice on how to live a worthwhile life. His conclusion for how to live is to fear God and keep his commands and be happy in your work. Not bad advice but everyone up to him had been saying the same thing without the vocational recommendation. 

His more practical advice for living is found in Proverbs.

How much richer are we than Solomon that we live in the light of the grace of Jesus and as Christians we have the Holy Spirit living in us? We have the Gospels and all the writings of the New Testament. While the things Solomon says are true he lived his entire life without knowing the fullest truth of God's plan for the salvation of mankind. 

When you read Ecclesiastes you can almost hear him saying, "This is it?" 

For the full context of his final conclusions about the meaning of life you'll need to read the accounts of all he accomplished. (1 Kings 4-9 and 2 Chronicles 3-9)

 It's far more than you or I could hope to achieve in our wildest dreams. 

Even so...

Maybe the best way to approach Ecclesiastes is to read it with sympathy for the man who achieved such incredible things in his lifetime, a man who's name is still remembered and associated with great wisdom and building the Temple. But for all of that he did, he didn't have access to the completed plan of God. He lived and died with the greatest event in history hundreds of years in the future and never having heard the greatest news of all. 

So for all his vast wealth, reputation, and wisdom you and I are in a better position to have hope for the future than Solomon. We live in the light of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. We have the gift of grace and the assurance of our own resurrection and eternity with God. 

Solomon in all his wisdom could not have imagined such a thing. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Seasons of Home: Spring Cleaning

The approach of spring, which if you follow this blog, you would imagine fills me with joy and anticipation had the opposite effect on me this year. I laid on the couch recovering from food poisoning in a dirty house and looked out the window at a garden in such bad shape I just wanted to rip it out and sod the whole thing. 

Have you been there? 

And as a beekeeper spring means even more work and the clock is ticking and doesn't stop because I'm over all the things. While I was wasting time and procrastinating, because that's what we do when we don't have a plan, I found a bunch of cleaning videos on YouTube. I have to say watching someone else clean has an almost magical effect. 

I thought, "I can at least clean the sink and wipe down my counters."

Three hours later I had deep cleaned my entire kitchen including cleaning the oven and the refrigerator. 

If you are stuck I highly recommend any of the "clean with me" videos on YouTube that appeal to you. The attitude adjustment is almost instant. 

A week later I had finished my setting the house in order and doing it reminded me of my mom, who believed spring cleaning was a team sport. 

She'd pick a day and put on a stack of records or turn up the radio and set us to work taking apart our rooms or helping her in the kitchen or living room and clean the things that didn't get done in our regular daily or weekly chore list. This included things like moving furniture to sweep behind it and dusting pleated lampshades with a paint brush. No one ever wanted to do any of this but once we got started we began looking for things to clean and to see dirt that had been invisible to us only the day before. 

She made it feel like an event with open windows and music. After a few hours of work she'd yell, "Break time!" We'd all sit down and eat some terrible corporate mid century junk food like Ruffles and French onion dip or rip open a bag of Chips Ahoy. Then it was back to work fueled by Coke and and chemicals. At the end of the day we were all exhausted but satisfied and the house sparkled. The air even felt cleaner. 

My mother never read any books by admirals about making your bed or the power of atomic habits but she did understand the power of getting started and of making something that could have been drudgery into an event. 

Maybe it's that same upbeat commraderie makes the Millenial mommies' YouTube videos fun and inspiring to watch.

What's your favorite way to motivate yourself when you don't feel like doing anything?