Friday, May 25, 2012

Of Beauty, Eternity, and Worship

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

A beautiful world outside. An eternity inside. Man is still unable to understand all of what God has done.

A) Of Beauty and Of Eternity

This verse is the key theme for today's devotional.  Everything is beautiful, but only in its time, in particular, God's time. Everything covers things both external and internal. Everything can mean whatever we see with our eyes, or things that remain unseen. Even our imagination is a 'thing.' In God's time they will be made beautiful.
"That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful." (Ninon de L'Enclos) 

Next up, is 'eternity in the hearts of men.' This gives us a clue that men is created and given a special place in life. They last longer than things. Their souls are of precious essence. They are able to comprehend things far beyond any other ordinary entity. Sometimes, I wonder if all our acts of worship are recorded somewhere in the celestial realms. Is God remembering all the words we sing, all the good deeds we dedicate back to Him? I believe He does. If an act of worship in our small ways, can be like a ripple, it will generate waves after waves of worshiping and culminating in glorifying God.

Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.” (Sean O'Casey)
B) Of Desire to Worship

What is most pertinent is the ability of men not simply to worship, but to desire to worship. Throughout the history of Israel, whenever there is an absence of God in the life of Israel, there is non-stop struggle. As they build altars to their idols, not only are they digging their own spiritual graves, they are angering the Almighty God, who continues to keep His Covenant even though His people has forgotten theirs. This desire to worship is evident from the third part of the verse.

C) Of An Incomprehensible World

Beauty cannot be understood, only admired, marveled, and appreciated. Eternity cannot be measured, only glimpsed. While beauty is seen, eternity is very much unseen. While beauty is fleeting, eternity appears in a strange mix of dual affirmations of now here, but not yet here. Eternity is a difficult to understand concept or reality. Yet, our hearts yearn for something deeper all the time, if not now, surely later.

Men cannot comprehend, cannot "fathom" what God is doing. Yet, it amazes me on how men's behaviour reflects exactly the opposite. Take the example of Job. Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar are all philosophers who spout the religious theories of their time, that as long as one does good, one will be rewarded. As long as one does evil, one will be punished. Their logical conclusion to Job's suffering is essentially this: Job must have sinned.

Throughout the generations, the question, "Why people have to suffer?" continues to plague all nations. Some religions build their entire philosophy on the meaning or the explanation of suffering.

Sometimes, I wonder why people when they get all the goodies in life, when they win the jackpot, or when they receive some good turn in life, have they similarly stopped to ask: "Why must it be me to win this grand prize?"

Qohelet, the writer of Ecclesiastes brings us through a deeper search for meaning in trying to make sense of time, and life within the short span of time. He shows us glimpses of eternity through reflecting the conditions of our hearts. Perhaps, there is a clue here. Men is not designed to find satisfaction in possessions or in domination of time and space. Men is designed to worship, and to find their greatest meaning in worshiping the One True God. Miss it, and we will continue to miss the real meaning of life.

D) Worship is Indescribable

Perhaps, for those of us high achievers, we can be easily frustrated when things do not turn out our way. Let those be times in which we can be humble.

Perhaps, for those of us low achievers, or feel like we get the wrong end of the bargain each time, we can be discouraged when we see others more successful than us, and we start to ponder what significance we have.

Perhaps, we are neither high or low achievers, but just a simple traveler taking life as it comes. There will come a time where we will be asking: "What is life all about?"

Here is my thought. We are created not primarily to work. We are created for God. Searching for meaning is a noble thing. Finding significance in life is a necessary thing. Yet, those efforts will come to naught if we fail to recognize that "who we are created to be" is more important than the things we are trying to do.

In response to the beauty we see, let us praise God. In response to the ability to glimpse eternity, let us glorify. In response to the many unfathomable things in this life and the next, let us worship.

"To be converted to faith in Jesus Christ is to return to the worship of the true God, and to dethrone all rivals to his authority." (Graham Kendrick)
Come Pentecost Sunday, may the Spirit helps us to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.


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