Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Learning the Art of Enjoyment

Oswald Chambers once outlined the wisdom books of the Old Testament like this:

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.

9 comments:

  1. jesus57
    RACHEL thanks i needed to hear that awesome story .ialways work and can't seem to make time to enjoy slow down and have fun.Thanks for the reminder. Love it. Blessings

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  2. Struggling myself with how to enjoy every moment with so many things pulling at me from dawn to dusk. Was also led to Ecclesiastes 3:11 while driving by a church sign that read "He makes everything beautiful in its time". What a great promise from the Father to turn my mess into beautiful. Thank you, Lord, for your promises.

    Okay, so I'll look forward to that book about enjoyment : )

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  3. AnonymousMay 26, 2010

    I don't think I've ever read through Ecc all the way through. I remember the verses that go "there's a time for everything." And the ones that say everything is vanity. Your right, it is confusing. I liked this post though!

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  4. I've read it, a few times. Its a book that makes me smile and enjoy life. It's like Psalms to me, it's not "heavy" if that makes any sense.

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  5. "...slow down to recognize and savor the parts in my day God has granted me to enjoy." I have been taking time to contemplate what that means and looks like on a regular basis.

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  6. I am reading Isaiah right now but I believe I will be reading Ecclesiastes next. I loved your post. What a great reminder

    blessings

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  7. It's so hard with the busyness of life to remember to slow down and enjoy each aspect of the life that God has given us. That's definitely something I need to work on.

    As for reading Ecc, I don't think I've ever read the entire book. I think I'll make that next. I'm currently reading 1&2 Samuel.

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  8. Glad to find you through Higher Callings Blog. I love it. Slow is equal to Enjoy. I believe there are lots of people who think that way. It is just so hard to get to slow.

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  9. AnonymousMay 31, 2010

    Hi! I just popped over from Prov 31 this morning, which was so helpful to me. Thank you! I've been praying for guidance on whether to start homeschooling and have been sooo confused. You said, "He will work out for good, no matter which choice we make?" Spot on! :-) You have been such a blessing to me on numerous occasions.

    Then I saw your Ecc. post, and it happens to be my favorite book in the bible. My husband teases me a little about that. And yes, it is because I find God's love in it... He wants us to enjoy! But also, for me it is a reminder of how all the humanly pursuits are in vain, and that the only way to pure joy and fulfillment is through God and His word.

    Julie G

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