2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. 3 What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? Eccl 1:2-3 (KJV)
King Solomon was the wisest king to rule over Israel, yet he remained unsatisfied with all that he did He was unhappy with all his accomplishments Wealth flowed into his kingdom’s coffers as freely as water fell from the sky, and yet he remained unhappy, seeing nothing worthy in anything he did. When money didn’t suffice, he turned to drink. When that didn’t work, he turned to pleasures of the flesh. When that didn’t work, he threw himself into his labors, and still nothing helped. Nothing made him happy. I find myself in that same rut sometimes. What’s the point? Nobody is seeing these words. Why bother writing them down? What do you gain by doing this? DING! There is where we go wrong. Happiness is not something you can gain for yourself. Happiness is given to you by God as a reward for faithful service. If you start into a venture wondering what you will gain from it, you probably won’t be gaining happiness out of it. Satisfaction, maybe. Maybe even pleasure, but not true happiness. Solomon realized this by the end of the book, but the first section makes you wonder if he is going to live long enough to learn. Gloom and doom rides him like a tangible cloud. The things that give you true happiness can’t be bought and they are treasures you will only find by giving of yourself.
I apologize for being late with this blog post (seems like I’m saying that more and more here lately), but my work schedule has been really crazy. That being said, if I hadn’t waited about writing it, I probably would’ve posted on something else. I started working on a new ‘digital painting’ for the month of October, and the theme is ‘supernatural’. So I started thinking of what I could make, and I came up with a pretty good layout in my head. Now I just had to start modeling it in my 3D modeling programs. The layout required that I make a supernatural monster, so I settled on ‘Death’ or perhaps a demon of some sort. So that’s what I started modeling. As I did, it occurred to me what I was doing. I was creating my own demon. That got me to thinking. We tend to create our own demons. Sometimes out of other people, out of circumstances, even out of mistakes and accidents. Oh, I know there are real ‘demons’ out there. Evil personified and malevolent people and things, but sometimes we create our own in our minds. That is troubling enough, but then we give it power, letting it limit our goals and abilities. The world is a dark enough place without us giving it the club to beat us with. We can either face it head on or let it hold sway over us, keeping us fenced into a life of mediocrity. Maybe that thing holding you back is all in your head.
I read a mime (I think that is what they are calling them now) the other day that said; A man asked a Christian what he had gained by praying to God. The man replied ‘nothing, but let me tell you what I’ve lost; anger, ego, greed, depression and fear of death.’ I like the thought behind it to an extent. It didn’t really completely convey what I thought it should. I think it should have read more like; The man replied ‘that is yet to be seen, but I know what I’ve lost…’ I’ve heard people say that a Christian is crazy because he/she believes life starts after death. Every time I see that I try to correct it. We do not believe life starts after death, only that it gets better. Can I tell you what I’ve gained? Eternal life I know, but what shape will that life take? I can only imagine, but I do know all happiness comes from him. If you don’t have Him, then what you have is a pale imitation of happiness.
9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Heb 1:9 (KJV)
13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:13 (KJV)
11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalms 16:11 (KJV)
Things were going great. I could see all kinds of great possibilities lining up for me on the horizon. I sat there leisurely holding the wheel and coasting toward it when suddenly a huge wave appeared just off the port bow. The wave hit and tipped the ship of my life up on its side, nearly drowning me and my crew in the process. The good things I had seen on the horizon were suddenly lost in a fog of doubt and self-assessment. The wave hadn’t sunk us, but it had managed to draw our attention back from our daydreams and wishful thinking to immediate here and now, where we found ourselves still reeling and floundering trying to regain our bearings. This is the time that the Devil waits for. This is the time when his lies have the most effect on a person. Those time when we wonder what it was that we did to deserve this. I, being human, was wondering just that when the second wave hit. I was almost washed overboard into a sea of despair, thinking I had failed in everything that I had set out to do. Not only had I failed, I had failed miserably. Or so the enemy would have me to believe. You see, during all that time where I was leisurely steering my ship, I had let things slip my attention. Things I should have been paying attention to went unnoticed. This is the waves that sprang like magic out of the blue. The clouds were always there, I had just blinded myself to them, focusing on things way in the future. Above all, I had forgotten that my God is sovereign. ALL of this is according to His grand design. The great things that were there on the horizon may still be there, just beyond the mist that clouds the here and now, but I must see about fixing my ship and setting my crew to rights. Sometimes it takes a dunking to keep you from drowning.
I remember a sermon I once heard while attending Welcome No. 1 Baptist Church. It was quite a while back, and I don’t recall who the preacher was (I was really young). The preacher said that he had prayed for a message to bring to the congregation and the Lord had granted him one on the unrepentant going to hell. This can’t be right, the preacher thought. Everyone that attends church has been saved. I know them all. The preacher brought the message that the Lord had given him, and no one moved. The Spirit that had given him the message was at peace, so he knew he had obeyed as he should have. The following week the preacher prayed again, and again got a message on the lost going to hell. Again he preached the word and the Spirit was at peace. A third week went by and again another message on hell. After that the weeks that followed were the normal messages one would expect to be preached in a Believing Church. It was many months later before the reason for his messages were revealed. A man came up to the preacher and introduced himself.
“Preacher, you don’t know me, but I live by that little church where you pastor, and I just wanted to say thank you for preaching God’s Word. You see, I was in the field next to that little church one Sunday, and God convicted my heart. He dealt with me for three weeks. Three weeks I was in that field every Sunday, dreading hearing the Word, but knowing I had to hear it. On the 3rd week I was saved out there by an old stump. I just wanted to say thanks.”
I will remember that message to my dying day. It has given me strength at times when I thought I had none. Remember, sometimes God may ask you to do things that do not seem normal to you, and keep in mind you may never know why in this life, but God knows. And your actions may be the only thing that helps that ‘lost soul’ find His Way.
I am an artist. I have been working with 3D art for the past year or so, and I have to say I’m getting pretty good at it. When working with my art, I save a lot of different versions of the same pictures. This one may have a different colored building, that one might have an added reflection or signpost. It’s usually the same picture with just a few added details. But sometimes I mess up (calm down. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen from time to time.), and save a picture with a mistake in it. Some people might not see the mistake, but I would every time I looked at it. This was the lesson I learned in Bible Study Sunday morning this week. I have read through the Bible and there have been versus that I didn’t understand. I took it on faith that God would reveal their hidden meanings when I was ready. One such verse is in the very first book, Genesis.
22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Gen 3:22-24 (KJV)
Verse 22 was very confusing to me until Sunday. I kept wondering why? Why would God not want us to live forever? Now the answer to this question may seem obvious to some, but that is the way the Lord speaks. It doesn’t matter how many times you show someone something, they will not understand it until they are ready to receive it. Anyway, Sunday I realized why. We were a flawed image because we had chosen to sin against God. Had we been allowed to eat of the fruit of eternal life, yes we would have lived forever, but it would have been in the sorry state that we are now, flawed and imperfect. So people may actually think that God banishing us from the Garden of Eden was a punishment, but in reality He was saving us from ourselves. This is the secret hidden in those lines of scripture. He denied us eternal life in a corrupt shell. After seeing this, I now look back and wonder why I didn’t see it before. Sometimes the knowledge is in plain sight, you just have to wait for the right time for your eyes to be opened.
I was looking for inspiration for this week’s blog post, and so I was looking at some of my older entries when I came across one that seemed to fit the situations I have been dealing with lately. So I thought it would be appropriate for me to Re-Share it with you. So we go retro this week with an older post, but the wisdom still holds true.
O’ Malley The Alley Cat
My wife has a Tom-cat named O’Malley (yes, from Aristocats). This cat was gifted to us by persons unknown. I believe he must’ve been abused by a former owner, because the cat has always been very skittish around me, and I have never given it a reason to be. He had been getting better about not jumping away every time I moved and he would even come if I called him. Any way, recently he got into a…territorial dispute with another cat. The argument was rather heated, and I don’t know about the other cat, but O’Malley looked like he had gone ten rounds with a cougar. His right eye swelled almost shut, and looked to be getting infected, so my wife took him to the vet. Antibiotics were prescribed O’Malley was put into the hospital wing of our bathroom until his injuries have time to heal. Since his internment, he has become a lot more friendlier towards me. He hasn’t jumped a single time as I have visited him, and has even asked me to pet him on multiple occasions. My point in telling you this story is simply this: Sometimes God lets us go through battles and storms in this life in order to let us know who we can trust and who we need to move closer to. You never know who your friends truly are until the battle starts and there is more on the line than just words.