Monday, November 19, 2007

Ecclesiastes: Futility

The Disciple Bible study, Under the Tree of Life, is the fourth in the Disciple series. This is my fourth year to participate with the group at my church, so I’m well engrained in the structure of it. Every time we read over some part of the Bible that we’ve studied before, I learn new things. Our group has grown very close, as we’ve studied, shared our concerns, and prayed together.

This week, we are reading Ecclesiastes; we’re reading it next week, too. This week, we are asked to read it with a pessimistic view, as if we didn’t know the hope of God through Christ, “from the perspective of futility.” Here is the assignment:

“Look for mystery, vain things, incongruities, ambivalence, irony, chance, punctured pride, injustice, tragedy, and death. Look at life as it really is. Consider your own death” (70).

Every week’s lesson gives us an assessment of the human condition that has us pretty well pegged. This week’s “Human Condition” is this:

“We live as if tomorrow were a sure thing. We accumulate. The next new experience, the next new possession—we gather them around us to distract us from the fact that nothing lasts. That we’re going to die” (70).

People who have been Christians for years need to remember how it was before they came to know God. They need to remember how it felt to be hopeless and to find life meaningless. I remember.

I find myself resistant to really getting into that perspective. I have vivid memories of that view of life, because I lived it for fifty years before I was rescued from myself by God. I really don’t want to re-live those feelings.

Wilke, Richard Byrd, and Julia Kitchens Wilke. Disciple: Under the Tree of Life Study Manual. Abingdon, 2001.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: National Awareness Month of ...

Did you know that there are thirteen (or maybe fifteen) national awareness promotions designated for the month of November! There might even be others.

Red Ribbon Month

Drunk & Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

American Diabetes Month

National COPD Awareness Month

National Hospice Month

National Novel Writing Month

National Marrow Awareness Month

National Family Caregivers Month

National Inspirational Role Models Month

National Alzheimer's Disease Month

National American Indian Heritage Month

National Adoption Month

Aviation History Month

Prematurity Awareness Month

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hungry and Needy

It is important to be present in every moment—to truly be there, not absent-minded or half-there because of distraction or worry. It’s easy to get that way because of a vague sense of being needy or bored or sick or fatigued, or a feeling that there somehow has to be more to life.

We do all kinds of things, trying to feel better, to fill up the emptiness. Eating too much is a feel-good activity that lots of us are into these days.

See this, for example, from a blog about overeating: "For some people, eating is a compulsion. Men and women of all ages force themselves to eat too much or too little, and suffer tremendous psychological pain when they do. Eating, body weight and image become an obsession that damages relationships and has serious medical consequences.

"Food addiction is a disorder characterized by preoccupation with food, the availability of food and the anticipation of pleasure from the ingestion of food."

But the good feelings don’t last, and that’s because only closeness to God gives that rich, satisfied feeling.

Overeating is not a sickness itself, but a symptom of sickness. The real sickness is isolation from God, a deeper-than-the-bones soul sickness. He satisfies “more than the richest feast.”

Psalm 63 says it well—David was in the wilderness, thirsty, lonely and needy:

O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.

The picture and quote come from ; the Bible passage is from