, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If someone nurtures soaring hopes and plans, we might tell them to stay more grounded or earthed instead. But have you ever heard someone suggest to you to get more ‘heavened’? 🙄 If you, like me, often times wonder about the seeming hopelessness of our existence as we cannot sense the presence of God while (sometimes ridiculous) everyday troubles keep preying on our minds, you might have also observed non-Christians who can seemingly live their lives confronted with less problems and difficulties than we can. Yet, in the long run, that is not the truth. The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us some sobering facts.

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed, and the doors on the street are shut—when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low— they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets— before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.” (Eccl 12:1-8 ESV)

ALL is vanity, dear brothers and sisters. ALL we can perceive with our five natural senses will perish one day. Only that which is unseen and has come from God is eternal. As Ecclesiastes mentions further on, we must be cautious to stay focused on God, on wisdom that has come from Him, and on what He wants from us in our lives, no matter what age we are of right now. The Book of Ecclesiastes reveals that,

“The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Eccl 12:11-14 ESV)

A lot of works and mental occupation could be dropped if we really took heed of this advice. Doesn’t our mental restlessness spring from trying to solve problems we cannot solve right now… on our own… without God’s intervention… (John 15:5)? It seems to me that there is a specific timing for everything in our lives. Our flesh that does not like to wait wants to see all things fixed RIGHT NOW so that we can rest afterwards. However, that does not seem to be God’s plan for us. Instead, we read Isaiah’s words,

“Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” (Is 30:18-21 ESV – Emphasis in italics added)

Dear brothers and sisters, as hard as it is often to seek God before doing something, may He help us to not give up on getting more heavenly minded. Since God designed our lives long time before we were, would it not be better to seek His realm, i.e., the kingdom of God, in order to more and more share His perspective on things? We may not understand His thoughts and plans but if we wait on Him, we will be blessed as this Scripture from Isaiah promises. I thought it is most remarkable that God “waits to be gracious to” us and that His blessings follow our waiting on Him also. No time to hurry in the kingdom of God, right? Oh, how different from what this world offers us every day! We might be even inclined to think that we must hasten to do good works, since, if we do not help others, nobody will. But is that true? 🙄 Does God not know about the evil that happens in our world? Does He not even always cause it? The prophet Amos asked,

“Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Amos 3:16 ESV)

May we not fall prey to the lie that it might be our task as Christians to save (even only a tiny part of) the world and to comfort all people we meet who have experienced very bad things in their lives. The leading of the Holy Spirit is necessary for us here so that we can find out WHAT we can do WHEN. As much as our emotions might react to bad news of any kind, the author of our reaction was most probably not the Spirit of God since the Holy Spirit is not as reactive as our flesh is. If we are upset, anxious, and indignant at wrongdoing, this might be, still, not the Holy Spirit inside us. I believe it is one thing to discern the spirits so that we might know in whom we can place our trust and whom we should distrust, but it is quite another to condemn someone because of their wrongdoing. Shouldn’t we first love our enemies before judging or even condemning them? After all, there is only one Judge over all mankind and He said,

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34 ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (Jn 3:16-17 ESV)

All images by Susanne Schuberth 2017-2018