I’m making my way through Ecclesiastes recently in my devotions. It reads like a lament: a man with “eternity in his heart” grieving the fleeting nature of life in this world. How can things matter when nothing lasts? How do you find peace and joy in an ephemeral world?
I can identify with the concern; particularly as midsummer is almost here. Next week Saturday is July 15 – just as close to September 1 as May 30. And that makes me nervous. I realize that summer is moving at lightspeed, quickly slipping through my fingers, and I’ve barely begun to enjoy it. I haven’t even been to Lake Michigan yet. To paraphrase the classic hymn, “The sands of summer time are sinking”.
I like the four seasons here in Michigan. I like spring and fall and I can enjoy parts of winter. But summer is what I long for. Summer is what I wait for with eager anticipation – particularly from about January 15 through mid-May. That’s a solid 4 months of expectation. And then, Praise the Lord, it’s here! And it’s wonderful! But in the blink of an eye you’re staring August right in the face and you’ve barely broken out your flip-flops. That’s my mid-summer panic.
I find that the fleeting nature of summer makes it hard for me to enjoy the beauty of it as much as I could. Each delight of June and July is shadowed with the knowledge that November is on its way. There are so many things I would love to do, so many summer experiences I would love to enjoy, but time is rushing by. And that knowledge can make it difficult to be “in the moment”, to receive the gift of each day with a full heart and full attention and enjoy every morsel of blessing it has to give. In fact, the anxiety of losing things in this world is what makes us so frantic in our pursuits of pleasure – and so incapable of actually enjoying them. No matter what joys we find - they are always ephemeral and never enough.
I think that will be one of the greatest blessings of heaven – being able to be entirely and eternally “in the moment”, because nothing is fleeting, nothing is passing away. Nothing will ever be lost. Everything will be perfectly glorious and enduring. Everything will always be more than enough: deeper than my ability to taste and more lovely than my ability to grasp - and it will eternally endure. And we will be fully present to it. As C.S Lewis puts it, “We will enter into the beauties that we see.”
Isn’t that a wonderful thought?
And it’s what makes it possible to live in the present and at peace in an ephemeral world.
Everything we currently know is moving, changing, passing away. What parent hasn’t felt the anxiety of having a 12-year old with an upcoming birthday? Every happy couple enjoys their marriage under the shadow of a coming day of parting. I met a man today whose dear wife of 58 years passed away recently. The lines of pain etched in his face were made all the deeper by the gift of that lovely woman and the joys of a great marriage.
How can we embrace the joys of this life when we know they are fleeting and will certainly increase our pain someday? Most people do it by trying to ignore or make peace with the fleeting nature of this world. The Christian does it by laying hold of the eternal and enduring nature of the world to come. The sands of time may be sinking. But the dawn of heaven breaks. Every good thing lost here will be regained then, in unimaginable, glorified beauty and goodness. So we can relax and be fully present in this life as we enjoy the work of our hands. Eternal summer is coming. Jesus promised. Enjoy this fleeting one as a small foretaste of what is yet to come.
In Christ's Service,
What Pastor Dale is reading . . .
How Romans 8 Made Me a Calvinist
by Justin Dillehay
Just one recommendation. I thoroughly enjoyed this article. The glory of the gospel is that it is a divine guarantee! I think you’ll enjoy this!