What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away. (Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 ESV)
A while back at church, we were asked to fill out a ‘spiritual maturity survey’. The church wanted to gauge where their discipleship progress was, but although not mentioned on the survey, it was clearly looking at the four levels of spiritual maturity: infant, child, youth, and adult.
It may have been easier to not look at the survey from that lens, as my take-away was very disappointing. Since the survey was designed to be a snapshot in time, the questions were to be answered in the immediate present. This meant that all of the questions related to being ‘consistently involved’ in ministry at church, or mentoring others to serve in your ministry at church had to be answered negatively. On the surface that may seem like I am backsliding, but in reality, I’m learning that it takes time to become involved in a new body of believers.
When I changed careers and moved in July 2011, I assumed that I would just immediately fit in my new environment, like I had in my previous life. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. It takes time to become established in anything that you do. Everything… friends, church, work, life! This can feel very disheartening, if you let it! And, I’ve let it…. But, I finally feel that I am turning a corner, and these verses help give me perspective.
Everything that happens in life, whether good or bad, is designed to bring you closer to God. We should enjoy life, but not in isolation; we are to connect with others in everything we do. However, when other people come into the mix, problems may result. Personalities might clash; people might be misunderstood; feelings might get hurt. This is a chance that we take anytime we embark on a new journey, and only time can improve the situation.
I do feel that I am often misunderstood. I think that’s why I enjoy writing; I can reread and edit every thought until the message I am trying to convey is delivered. I have a feeling that people who only read my blog have a better understanding of me than people I see every day. I really don’t like this, as I wish everyone could know my heart and realize that I truly want the best for all people. My mouth and my humanness tend to complicate everything, especially because I am open and straightforward. I do not know how to “play the game”. What you see is exactly what you get.
Most of my really good friends have known me forever. I am an acquired taste, I suppose. I treasure those people who truly get me, and sincerely wish that other people would give me a chance before simply writing me off. Sometimes I feel that people don’t understand me because I look at life differently than most. I try to see the good in everyone and often befriend people who sit outside of the “clique”. I want to love everyone, regardless of how I am treated.
Some people say, “The only person one can ultimately trust is oneself”. I have never subscribed to this theory and while it continues to cause problems, I tend to trust others too quickly and forgive too easily. I sometimes think life would be much easier if I held grudges, hated, and guarded my heart better. But, that isn’t me…
Someone once commented to me that I help the wrong people. I should be doing things for the people who give to me, rather than people who do not. I admit; I do help others who may not “deserve” it and cannot pay me back for it. I try to help those who truly need it, rather than those who simply expect it. Personally, I think that’s what we are called to do.
My decision for how to live and who to love tends to open myself up to problems and judgment from others. I’m learning that this is okay, as it could be just a fast-track to spiritual maturity, which is great considering I have a really long way to go! Life is the practice ground for eternity. God places people and situations in your path to help you grow closer to Him. Even though it seems I get it wrong more times that I get it right, I pray that my motives remain pure and my heart is always in the right place.
I am learning to forgive people for letting me down, and hold myself to a higher standard than I hold others. When confronted with difficult situations, I am trying to use the pain to examine myself and grow closer to God. I need to be better at turning the other cheek when people accuse me of doing the very things they are doing to me. I need to only be concerned about my growth and leave it to God to convict other people.
I would rather follow God by loving others and hopefully encouraging them in some way. A life filled with unsuccessful attempts being involved in the messiness of others is better than remaining alone in my glass house. I suspect I will continue to befriend people that may defy logic and reason. I trust that God is leading me in that direction, He will continue to carry me through the process, and He will ultimately be glorified as a result. All I have to do is seek Him and feel my way towards Him. He is right there waiting for me…
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, (Acts 17:26-27 ESV).”