The Psalms teach us how to pray.
The Proverbs teach us how to act.
Job teaches us how to suffer.
The Song of Songs teaches us how to love.
Ecclesiastes teaches us how to enjoy.
It's the latter that God has brought to my forefront this year. In fact, when my husband and I prayerfully chose our one words for the year, we both came up with enjoyment (just in different ways). His one word is "enjoy" and mine is "slow" which represents to me the need to slow down to recognize and savor the parts in my day God has granted me to enjoy.
What does it mean to enjoy God and the life He gives? That's my current driving quest, and possibly the topic of a future book from me.
Other than Revelation, Ecclesiastes may well be the least understood book of the Bible. I've been digging into it for the last six months and absolutely loving what I'm finding there! You may've noticed that my blog redesign even contains a verse from Ecclesiastes in the side bar.
I believe the underlying theme of Ecclesiastes - which God placed in His Holy Book from old - is to enjoy the pleasures God grants, in our days under the sun, as a means of worshipping Him. J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom put it this way, "The central theme of Ecclesiastes ... is that we should program ourselves to appreciate and enjoy the simple everyday blessings with which God strews our paths."
And as John Piper insists, "God is most satisfied in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
Grateful enjoyment was, is, and always will be a key element in biblical godliness. It does a heart, soul and life good.
Food, friends, laughter, work, marriage ... sun sets, the smell of cut grass, the sound of birds in the morning, a walk in the woods - all can be enjoyed in such a way as to bring glory to God. How gracious of Him! I wonder if you are adept at, or frequently enjoying such things. If not, maybe today, after reading this post, you'll find something to savor and give Him thanks. I'm finding that's an art that has to be (re)developed.
To be honest, I'm more given to pleasure than to restraint. My personality has tended to be more about fun than duty. But I always saw that as a defect in my character. After all, Yahweh's Girls are supposed to be disciplined, right? Enjoyment sounded opposed to taking-up-your-cross-and-following-Him. So I tried to subdue that side of me - not realizing I just needed to focus and channel it godward. In fact, the grateful enjoyment of life to God's glory is a spiritual discipline.
So it’s been a learning process for me. An awakening. And my theology has been transformed by a fuller view of Christ and life in Him. I'm growing spiritually by embracing joy.
I'm curious - have you ever read through the book of Ecclesiastes? What did you take away from it? Or did you just find it confusing? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Thankful for the God-ordained pleasures in life.