Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Right Stuff

What was I expecting? In my sixties I am not as fast or as strong as I once was. My mind plays tricks on me, memory deficit. Abilities in which I took pride have diminished. That’s life.

Yet here are five assets which in most pursuits customarily produce success: speed, strength, wisdom, discernment, and skill or education. Each in specific applications can achieve its objective. One would naturally assume that possessing all five should guarantee achievement and victory. But that’s not always true. Actually two factors, time and opportunity, control the relative effectiveness of human ability. ‘Opportunity’ is the alignment of events and occurrences in which these personal assets operate. ‘Time’ refers to God’s participation in directing circumstances that either invite or overwhelm one’s personal qualities.

If you are wondering why I pulled God into this human occasion, it is because the Bible assumes that He administers all that pertains to our lives. Ecclesiastes is part of the Bible’s Wisdom Literature and chapter 9 verse 11 says, “I saw something else under the sun. The race isn't [won] by fast runners, or the battle by strong heroes. Wise people don't necessarily have food. Intelligent people don't necessarily have riches, and skilled people don't necessarily receive special treatment. But time and unpredictable events happen to all of them.” That is Solomon’s one man observation that we should value human qualities but not trust in them to guarantee success. Our memories are crowded with examples of individuals who scored high in one or more of these assets yet fell short at life.

Then how do we let this nugget of wisdom assist us today? Ecclesiastes chapter 9 opens with this stark reality. It doesn’t matter who we are or how well we are doing with God or with others, the same event, death, happen to us all. It is an equalizer. In view of this the counselor has some advice and part of it is in chapter 9 verse10. “Whatever presents itself for you to do, do it with [all] your might, because there is no work, planning, knowledge, or skill in the grave where you're going.” Wow! That is a reality check. Don’t hold back Solomon. Tell it like it is.

So, approach enthusiastically the things God gives you to do in your years on earth and pursue it all wholeheartedly and energetically. A New Testament compliment says, “Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly as though you were working for your real master and not merely for humans. You know that your real master will give you an inheritance as your reward. It is Christ, your real master, whom you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-34

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