CLEF Newsletter - January 2017

The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes (meaning “The Preacher”) was written by King Solomon, the wisest King of Israel. He was the wiser later in life because he realized he could have avoided so many sad mistakes had he followed God’s precepts. He then penned a collection of wiser-for-the-wear axioms that gain for us the foresight that was his hindsight:

“Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days. “Divide your portions to seven, or even eight, for you do not know what misfortune may occur on the earth. “If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north wherever the tree falls, there it lies. “He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap. “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things. “Sow your seed in the morning, and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good. “The light is pleasant, and it is good for the eyes to see the sun. “Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they shall be many. There will be days to come for you when not much matters anymore. “Rejoice then, young man (and woman), and celebrate your youth, and let your heart be pleasant in your days of vitality. Follow your dreams and take advantage of what your eyes see. Yet know that God will also hold you to account for all you do. “So, remove vexations form your heart and put away the pain of darkness, because youth and the prime of life are fleeting.” Ecclesiastes, Chapter 11.

No one could have even come close to predicting the events of the past year. Yet they occurred with striking impact and definition, much as some may have wanted otherwise…

  • Korea develops a Hydrogen Bomb
  • ISIS and terrorism continue their murderous destruction
  • Summer Olympics athleticism astonishes all, penalizes Russia and uncovers massive doping practices
  • Natural disasters increase in the US and around the world
  • A new virus (Zika) defies attempts to halt its deadly spread
  • Britain exits the EU
  • Trump wins position as leader of the free world
  • The Dow Jones goes from 17K to almost 20K

Many other events as well, but what were you expecting?

Now we embark into 2017. Some believe that all is lost. Others feel the future has been saved. The truth? Somewhere in the middle of it all, but there are two very clear principles which, if we are to navigate through the year with any degree of confidence and optimistic expectation, we need to bear in mind. One, it is God Who orders all things after the counsel of His own will (Ephesians 1:11). Whether we care to admit it or not, God does what He pleases and what honors and glorifies the Truth… a Truth which, when we align with it, grants us a good future and hope and enables us to stand in the starkest of times, regardless of how bleak it may seem. God, Who made and controls all things, is not worried about the turn things take. His inexorable plan and purpose for this world and our relatively meager lives are not things which are altered by our own success or failure, but they do matter to Him, and are why He gave us life and place when and where He did. God guides and uses us in our circumstances.

Second, the choices and decisions we make do have consequences. The preacher of Ecclesiastes surmises to us profound truths, as inherent to our world today as they were in his of 935 BC. Human nature and the course of this world are a constant. Increases in speed, knowledge and technology don’t alter that either. We are still governed by self-interest, unless we are disciplined otherwise. What impacts that directly is whether we yield to the overarching control of His Spirit or our own. That choice in itself is a fundamental one. Beyond that is the embrace of true understanding, mostly learned by finally realizing that there are axioms in life which, hard as we may try, we cannot rewrite. Endeavoring to do so classifies us with the definition of insanity.

The chapter quoted above is just an example, but some of the best things in life are free, like, advice you can follow and succeed with, every time. Moreover, a frame of mind and worldview that, like a good road map, will get you to where you want to go. Things like realizing life presents us with both risks and opportunities and we should reasonably engage them with an eye to the future. We’ll lose some, but win much more. Don’t put all your eggs into just one basket, but diversify your options and resources. Know that life will happen. Don’t despair, just keep moving forward. Increase comes when we strive for it, so make good use of your time. Enjoy life for what it is and don’t waste it. Be thankful and content with what you have. Remember that you reap what you sow, and make the most of the here and now before its intended blessing is lost. Now, onward with the greatest of expectations!