Ecclesiastes is the perfect book of the Bible for me to be reading right now.
My husband has taken a new job in Michigan. As we begin the process of saying goodbye and moving on, my life echoes the musings of Solomon. There is a time for every event under heaven…a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. Over the last five and a half years, our family has put down deep roots at Wayside Chapel and in San Antonio. Now we must carefully pull up out of our garden and transplant once again to a new place, where we trust God to be preparing the soil for our growth. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. I have already done some weeping and mourning over what I will lose when we leave, and I know I will do more. But I know I will laugh some, too, sometimes even while weeping. Friendship is sweet that way. A time to keep, and a time to throw away. Yeah. This one gets a little tricky for me. I sat on the floor upstairs for at least two days, going through boxes of stuff, trying to decide what was worth moving yet again…my list is a lot longer than my husband’s…sorry, Neal.
Moving has a way of making the vanity of life seem more apparent. The piles of paper memories I just can’t bring myself to throw away will very soon mean nothing to those who come behind me. When I move to a new town, I fill an empty house with these memories and things that make it home, I meet strangers and they become friends, I learn road names and local culture, I find a grocery store and a school and a church…and then I pack it all up in boxes and in my heart and start over somewhere else. Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
The commentary in my Bible says, “The Hebrew word translated vanity…expresses the futile attempt to be satisfied apart from God. This word is used 38 times expressing the many things hard to understand about life. All earthly goals and ambitions when pursued as ends in themselves produce only emptiness.” Everything I do, everything I enjoy, everything I love is meaningless apart from God. He has made it to be that way so that we don’t get too comfortable with that which doesn’t last. I confess, however, that I am struggling—it can feel pointless to put energy into starting over, choosing a house, a church, making friends.
But God gives meaning to it all. Each stop on my journey has played an important role in conforming me to God’s image. At each place, God has replaced my sorrows with joys.
I know that there is nothing better…than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God.
~Ecclesiastes 3:12, 13
So I will rejoice in God’s many good gifts: finding a home here that was perfectly in between work, school, and church…having great neighbors…warm winters…delicious food (goodbye yummy Mexican and BBQ)…Wayside Chapel…a wonderful youth group and dear friends for my kids…spiritual growth through God’s constant refining…and precious, precious friends who have labored alongside me. You have helped me see the good in all of my toil, and you have helped me use this moment in my lifetime to do good.