Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash
If you had to sum up life in 1 to 2 words, how would you describe it?
All above are fair descriptions (depending on your circumstances), but after some deep thinking I’ve decided to associate a new word with life.
In simple terms, I see life as oscillation – constantly moving back and forth at a steady speed. This probably seems contradictory to how the general population views life. Life is seen as moving back and forth (generally), but likely not seen as “steady” by most people’s standards. I attribute the disagreement with the statement to human perception, but I’ll get to that later.
Let’s revisit a popular scripture that is quoted often not only in church, but also by many philosophers and leaders throughout our history – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. It reads:
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
We often quote or read this scripture when are experiencing a rough time or transition in our life. So it should come as no surprise that President Elect Joe Biden quoted the scripture during his election speech and tweeted on November 7, 2020. Possibly even less of a surprise is the fact that the phrase “time to reap” was searched on Google four times more often last month than it typically had been in the last 5 years (see google trend results).
But why is the scripture not quoted during the good times? Why is it that it requires a negative view of a situation to prompt a search of the scriptures? This, I believe, is in direct relation the reason we tend to see life not as a steady change, but as a series of long obstacles and short wins.
I believe life does move steadily, but we constantly feel like the good times are short and the bad times take too long! Why?
Time is fixed, but our perception of time changes with our circumstances.
Time is fixed, but out perception of time changes with our circumstances. Allow me to share a tip with you that I believe will enhance your perception and smooth your experience. Repeat to yourself the phrase, “I’ve got some smooth moves coming.”
Let’s look at our first analogy. Picture the last oscillating fan that you have used or seen. It moves from side to side, slowly, but deliberately. It continues its path until it reaches the pivot point, hangs there for a second, then starts back in the opposite direction. If you’re cold, you might dread when the fan starts to approach you. But if (more likely) you’re hot, you can’t wait for that cool breeze to get back to your position, allowing its smooth breeze to lightly brush against your face as a gentle wind on a hot summer day.
You think to yourself, “I just want this breeze to stay on me… Keep this good feeling going indefinitely.” So you decide to put you hand in the path of the fan and prevent it from moving past you any longer. What happens? It probably starts to click or jolt in place. And the more you press against the fan, the more harsh the clicking gets. You should take your hand away because if you don’t, the mechanism that causes the fan to move smoothly will probably break. And then the fan itself might break as well. And when that happens… welp, no more moments of cool gentle breeze – just never ending desert heat misery.
But what if instead of stopping the fan, we could move with it? The fan would continue to blow air, moving along its path, and we’d be moving back and forth with it, experiencing never ending breezy bliss. This, my friend, is the route we must seek.
We don’t want to view and navigate life like a constantly moving fan that only hits us with good moments on occasion. We don’t want to think of life like a series of mountains that are hard to climb up and so easy to fall down. We also don’t want to stop the fan (which in this analogy is the “Move of God” by the way). No! We want to move with God and life, remaining in constant connection to the source of joy, peace, and the smooth summer breeze.
Think of a pendulum, for instance, a yoyo attached to a string. Note, it is attached to some source, so it is not on its own. If we suspend the yoyo without movement, it remains at a low point. Without movement, it stays in a place where things can pile on top of it. It remains rooted in a COVID-19 depressed world. It remains jobless and feels the pressure of financial insecurity. It stays distanced from family and feels no love. It stays in the shadow of the valley of death missing the light from around it. While, yes, it is attached to “the source”, it eventually gets so much baggage and pressure that it has no choice but to break its line and fall on its own.
But our message today is not just “Grab hold”. It is Grab Hold and Swing. And as we start to swing… As we start to move while connected to the source, we realize that this COVID-19 world is just but a moment. We realize that the next job is right after the next swing. We begin to repair the relationship with our family. We avoid having all the baggage pile up and continue to stay connected to “the source”.
And the source is Jesus Christ!
I always like to think about King David when I think of someone constantly being connected to God. He was known as a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam 13:14, Acts 13:22). David had plenty of life’s constant swings, ups and downs:
David’s life of ups and downs
- Defeats Goliath
- Forced into hiding from Saul
- King of Israel
- Adultery with Bathsheba and murders her husband Uriah
- Wrote songs of praise and laughter
- Experiences the Death of (his rebellious son Absalom)
- Ark of the covenant returned (Danced before the Lord)
- David’s kingdom is hit with a 3-day pestilence killing 70K
Yet David was so connected to God that he was at times even given a choice on how bad things could get (read 2 Samuel 24:1-17 – specifically verses 11-13). The 3 days pestilence I mentioned above was actually a choice that God gave David — 7 years of famine, 3 months of losses to David’s enemies, or 3 days of pestilence. To put things into perspective, David had about 1.3 million men at his disposal. In just 3 days of pestilence, 70,000 men were killed. That is over 5.3% of the population! Even with as bad as the Coronavirus has hit the United States, we haven’t yet even lost 0.1% of the US population.
I say all that to say this — while times are bad and situations feel dire, remaining connected to the source and just swinging with it will always keep things temporary. And even when the times are temporary, they could always be worse. Imagine if we had lost 5.3% of our population in just 3 days. That would be about 17.5 million people! That would mean for every 100 people on your Facebook or Instagram feed, 5 of them would be crossed off the list — in just 3 days!
So I’m here to say I am thankful for God’s mercy and grace. I’m thankful for the faith and the knowledge that every situation I experience is but a small point in a long swing with Christ.
Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of it’s own. (Matthew 6:34)
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (James 1:2-3)
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)
I want to remind you today, as we think about who we are and what things are like, not to think about climbing up the mountain. I want you think about the smooth moves you make, when you do one thing: