What is it that is so attractive about the well-known verses from the Book of Ecclesiastes which we hear today? Is it the rhythm that sways back and forth (A time . . ., a time)? Is it the stark contrasts that mark each verse (born/die, weep/laugh, love/hate)? Perhaps it is a combination of all the above.
As much as these characteristics may unite to attract our attention, the “commentary” provided in the text defines most of all the attraction of these haunting verses: “There is an appointed time for everything. . . . [God] has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts.” The breadth of human experience chronicled by Ecclesiastes exhausts us until we relax into the truth that no part of human experience escapes God’s view, God’s presence.
Without that truth, the times of daily life feed a frenzy that continually looks to “the next thing” because the present is too difficult to bear, or seems empty. On we run to the next thing, in the hope of finding relief, something better, more satisfying, happier. But if everything mysteriously bears the stamp of God’s design and purpose, then no time is outside of his loving Providence, no event outside his loving Presence. Relaxing into that truth, then we know that the “rush” inside our hearts to “move on,” comes not from the worthlessness of passing moments. Rather, “God has put the timeless into their hearts.” A line from the poet William Blake comes to mind: “The wind is old and still at play, but I must hurry upon my way, for I am running to Paradise.”
It’s all God’s – both time and eternity. What a relief!
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