Anyone who has read this post for any length of time will know that I believe in the unerring Word of God. What one finds between the covers of the Bible is God-inspired, God-protected, and is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16 NIV)
You will also know that I have always believed pursuing one’s own happiness above all else is a selfish way to live, and that in the end, our lives will be happier when we think more about others than ourselves. You will understand my confusion, then, when I read Eccl. 8:15: “So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.” (NIV). Hum. I would truly have to mediate upon this text before I could fully comprehend what it meant to me. I closed my Bible and proceeded to go about my day.
It was my oldest son’s 23rd birthday, and the thought made me more than a little nostalgic. Especially when I realized he was no longer my little boy. Yes, he is a wonderful young man, one who makes me very proud. But he is also one who doesn’t want (or need?) his mom to be continually trying to solve his problems and giving him advice. This often leaves me wondering if there is any further role for me in his life…
I was talking to God about this the following morning when my cat jumped onto the chair to sit at my feet. Although my cat is loving, it is only on her terms. It must be when she wants, where she wants, and how she wants. I have accepted this about her, and I have resigned myself to enjoying my time with her whenever she gives it.
As I was contemplating this, it occurred to me that this is how God interacts with us. Most of us have my cat’s mentality when it comes to spending time with God. We are willing and ready to do so, but only in our own time, and usually only when we need something. Just like I would love for my cat to come more often, God’s heart is breaking to spend more time with us. But just as I accept and enjoy the time my cat does give me, God also accepts us where we are. He respects our decisions and our power of choice, and He is ever ready to help us, to be there for us, to reach out and hold our hands the moment we turn to him.
That’s when God spoke to me about my relationship with my kids. I need to approach it in the same way as I approach the relationship with my cat, in the same way He approaches our relationship with Him. I need to enjoy and fully appreciate the times when I am blessed with their company. I need to accept and love them for who they are. I need to encourage them to be independent and allow them to make their own choices.
I opened my Bible then, and I was impressed to reread Eccl. 8:15, but this time, I continued reading the next two verses: “When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe the labor that is done on earth–people getting no sleep day or night–then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.” (Eccl. 8:16-17 NIV)
That’s when I realized something powerful: I will never have all the answers to parenting. Hey, I will never have all the answers to anything! And the more I seek those answers, the more I will realize how little I truly comprehend, and how much I need to rely on the Truths of God’s Word!
So what is God telling me in vs. 15 (“…there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad…”)? Simply this: Rather than seeking to know the answers to all of life’s dilemmas, I simply need to “eat and drink and be glad”. I need to be happy with and thankful for the things God has given me, and when I do, “…joy will accompany [me] in [my] toil all the days of the life God has given [me] under the sun”!
Think about it!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.