Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ecclesiastical Perspective -- Part 1

The third chapter of Ecclesiastes is perhaps one of my favorite chapters in the Bible:

"To all things there is an appointed time,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

A time to be born, and a time to die:
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.

A time to slay, and a time to heal:
a time to break down, and a time to build.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh:
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones:
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embracing.

A time to seek, and a time to lose:
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

A time to rent, and a time to sow:
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

A time to love, and a time to hate:
a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh of the thing wherein he travaileth?

I have seen the travail that God hath given to the sons of men, to humble them thereby.

He hath made everything beautiful in His time:
also He hath set the world in their heart,
yet cannot man find out the work that God hath wrought
from the beginning even to the end.

I know that there is nothing good in them,
but to rejoice,
and to do good in his life.
And also that every man eateth and drinketh,
and seeth the Commodity of all his labor.
This is the gift of God.

I know that whatsoever God shall do, it shall be forever:
to it can no man add, and from it can none diminish:
for God hath done it, that they should fear before Him."

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-14 ~

What a marvelous picture of God's sovereignty! I find these words so comforting, because they reassure me (though I should need no reassurance) that God is in control of every molecule in the universe, and that His eternal plan *will* be worked out. No person on this planet can control his "destiny," or shift the eternal plan of God. "Whatsoever God shall do, it shall be forever."

I need to memorize these verses, to implant them on my brain -- it's so easy for me to become wrapped up in whatever stage of life I'm in, to forget that God has ordained many seasons in life. And that is the challenge, as I make my way down the balance beam of life. If I hold on too tightly to those enjoyable seasons, my heart begins to grow independent and I become unsuited for the seasons of trial that will come. On the other hand, if I view seasons of trial as endless cycles of pain and hopelessness, my heart begins to doubt God's love and my whole outlook becomes cynical. What I need to do, whatever season I am in, is serve God, work hard, and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

I am grateful for a God who plans the seasons of my life perfectly. Who picks me up every single time I fall off that balance beam. Who gently -- or sometimes sternly -- shows me that I know nothing of His master scheme for this world, that it's not all about me, and that what I need to do is simply trust Him and take the next step.

What if that next step is some important decision? Ecclesiastes lays it out very simply: Serve God, work hard, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. There is no need to fret over the decisions that lie before me, because the plan of God is fixed.

Ecclesiastes frees me from my own self-importance. It reminds me that I will *never* be able to fully understand God's plan for me and for the world. Certainly, I can catch a glimpse of it when I look back in history, and in my own life. But as the Holy Spirit puts it, "yet cannot man find out the work that God hath wrought from the beginning even to the end." He also says a few verses earlier that we are here on this earth to be humbled -- humbled by God's magnificent and unsearchable plans, humbled so that we will fear and worship our Creator.

We are here on this earth for only a short time, because this is not our final destination. So what do we do while we're here? Serve God, work hard, and enjoy the fruits of our labor. The Scriptures tell us that "This is the gift of God." God has given us freedom from fear, and the ability to enjoy His blessings.

It is God who controls my life and the world around me. And that is a supreme and comforting blessing, because that means there is hope. It is the God who brought the world into existence, and redeemed His people by sacrificing His own Son who is calling the shots. And it is that same God, Ecclesiastes says, that has "made everything beautiful in His time." In the meantime, all I am supposed to do is work and wait for the glorious unfolding of God's plan. Because it will be more beautiful than anything I could ever imagine.

All of this rambling, believe it or not, stems from some thoughts I've been mulling over for the past few months on contentment -- which I'll probably share in my next post!

You can find the second part of this post here: Ecclesiastical Perspective -- Part 2

You can find my theological disclaimer here.


  1. Excellent thoughts, Shannon! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love your new blog design! Looks really good!

    ~Hannah Rebekah

  3. I needed to read this today! Thank you! It's interesting how God works in ways through other people to send us messages for us to read/hear! :o)

  4. Wonderful post and something that I needed to be reminded of :-)

    Lots of love,

  5. Thankyou for sharing these thoughts Shannon, very helpful xxx

  6. Shannon,

    As always, I'm encouraged, refreshed, and challenged by your thoughts on Biblical womanhood.

    "It is God who controls my life and the world around me. And that is a supreme and comforting blessing, because that means there is hope."

    There. Is. Hope. So often, I forget ... and think I can do everything by myself.

    Looking forward to your next post. :)


  7. God works in mysterious ways. I read Ecclesiastes last week during my quiet times, and now you discuss your thoughts on it. Thank you for deepening my study of the Word!

    In Christ,
    Jane Ellen

  8. So true. It is so comforting to be reminded that God is in control. And the thought that with God everything is made beautiful in His time is inexpressibly beautiful – it reminds me of another glorious truth: that 'all things work together for good' for those that love Him. Thank you for sharing your thoughts; they are an encouragement to me.

    In Christ,


I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thank you so much for stopping by!