SEASONS AND SEEDS OF ETERNITY
Biblically, heaven and seasons closely join. The writer of Ecclesiastes, either Solomon or someone chastened dissolute just like him, connects our longing instinct, the seed of eternity in our hearts, with seasons. The verse I’ve been working off of — God sets eternity in our hearts —. comes on the heels of the verses with which I began the book, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 — for everything there is a season. The writer further distills this insight: “He has made everything” — there’s that word again — “beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 TNIV).
He has made everything beautiful in its time. For everything there is a season.
Each season has its beauty. And yet each season’s beauty has a bait-and-switch operation at work with in it: it draws us in only to draw us out, to take u elsewhere, to get our hopes up only to set our hopes on something else, something better, something bigger. That something else and bigger and better is heaven. Miss this, you’ll waste your life chasing that which no season can create but only hint at, only beckon us toward.
For everything there is a season, and in every season there’s enough beauty to awaken your longing instinct. Something awaits you that highest summer can you only, at best, give a fleeting glimpse of. Something beckons you that bleakest winter can never, at worst, entirely eclipse. The seasons awaken in us the “memory “ of miru, of some great thing we’ve never seen, that which we had but lost but that one day we’ll have again. By God’s design, every season whisper to us, if we’ll listen, of that place at the center of which stands a tree, a great miru, and that tree produces fruit twelve months of the year.
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I’m wondering if you might be mistaking a heavenly desire for an earthly one. I’m wondering if the restlessness you might be feeling somewhere in your life — your marriage, maybe, or your work, or your church, in anything you once found beautiful but which has since grown dull — is really your inbuilt yearning for heaven. It’s your homecoming device triggering. You fantasize about moving on, might remedy your ache. Well it just might, for a spell. But it will age you faster, and leave you aching more and with a sour taste in your mouth.
Eternity is in your heart. God’s planted a seed in you, an acorn from the miru. The hope of heaven, real as hunger, is what keeps stirring. If you try to fill that hope with things that only hint at its true fulfillment, you’ll be disappointed. But when we “set [our] hearts on things above” (Colossians 3:1) and “fix our eyes . . . on what is unseen” (2 Corinthians 4:18), then even if “outwardly we are wasting away,” still “inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).
I don’t think anyone’s in danger of being so heavenly minded they’re of no earthly good. I think that most of the world has gone the other direction and become so earthly minded few are useful to heaven or earth.
But by now, you must know what you are really missing.
TIME-IN 25: HEAVEN-BENT
I never used to think about heaven. Earth has always captivated me. I’m in no hurry to leave. Once I ran out of air forty feet under the water on a scuba dive. I misread my gauge and sucked my tank dry. The panic in my heart showed me, despite all my claims otherwise, that I am very attached to this mortal coil.
But I think about heaven a lot now. I think about it for the usual reasons. I’ve lost a lot of people I love, and I want to see them again. I have increasing aches and pains and strange shadows passing through me, and it’s harder and harder to hide that outwardly I’m wasting away. Some days are, frankly, miserable, and the idea of heaven is a powerful tonic for that.
But I also think of heaven because it helps me love this earth and this life more. It energizes me for the grind and the battle. It lights my day, whether they’re hard or boring or fun and easy.
In fact, I’m trying to be so heavenly minded I can be of some earthly good. The old dictum to the opposite effect is hokum. The most effective people who have ever lived on the earth have been the most heavenly minded ones. They simply had nothing to lose in giving themselves wholly to the kingdom of God. It’s those with no hope of heaven who often end up both bitter and useless on this earth.
List seven things that make you look forward to heaven. Over the next week, spend some time each day thinking about one of each of the seven things.
At the end of the seven days, see if everything around you doesn’t shine in a different light.
~ Darren’s Comments ~
If you know my life at all you would know that I crave truth. And my first experience with truth was when I got saved in a congregation that was meant to fit 250 people (give or take) by a pastor who preached a “hell fire and brimstone” for all of the congregation to hear.(back when it was popular in the U.S.). I got saved on a Sunday night of my 7th birthday, while moments later, rising up from the alter, I had horrible visions in my head of satan just to be rescued by the Lord Jesus Christ.
I couldn’t get those visions out of my head, and within a couple of days I was evangelizing to my best friend at school (Kevin Johnson) and a few others. With a new spiritual goal, I took on the promise of Jesus Christ coming back seriously. However, it waned since He did not come back the rest of that school year. I was disappointed, yet I was still hopeful. And seasons past.
Nevertheless I wanted to be ready for the rapture, so I wanted to have a deep understanding of the Word of God. Of the various books of the Bible, I started right in Leviticus. You know, all those priestly rules:
“And if his oblation be a sacrifice of peace offering, if he offer it of the herd; whether it be a male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before the LORD. And he shall lay his hand upon the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron’s sons the priests shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.”
Leviticus 3:1-2 KJV
Just joking. However, I did make a conscious effort to study the Bible, at least the parts I could understand, not rules for worshipping and making sacrifices to God. “That was in the Old Testament,” was my thought. “Those rules don’t apply to us now. Because of Jesus, we are in the New Testament under the period of grace,” was my thought in the mind of an eleven year old child. Since then, I’ve read and listen to the Bible several times, even Leviticus.
The excuses goes for the book of Ecclesiastes. Since I never heard a sermon directly out of the book of Ecclesiastes till my mid-twenties, I thought there might be something to this — after all the pastors I had growing up, they never preached out of that book. The first sermon I heard was a sermon on seasons (Ecclesiastes 3:1-9). Although it was written to Solomon’s son, the message of this book can be applied to all of Israel, all of America. Yet, after reading it, meditating on it, I find there is purpose behind this book.
I once read by a respected scholar of the the Bible, Warren Warnsby, that he didn’t know why they included this book in the cannon since it had such a message of doom and gloom: “All is vanity,” all is valueless, meaningless upon meaningless, in the end all is without purpose. Yes, that is true without God, but there is a hope hidden at the end of the book, in fact, the last two verses:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 KJV
All is vanity, all is valueless without Jesus Christ at the center:
“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.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV
Maybe your time for beauty hasn’t come yet, or maybe it has already past and your flesh just wants to find a way to go back to those glory days, where you could do no wrong and if someone questioned you, one could always fall back on, “They just don’t understand because they are jealous. Remember . . . Yet all of the human race has this: God planted a little seed in your soul that longs for heaven. And the only way to get there is to accept and submit to Jesus Christ.
An Interview With Mark Buchanan On His Book: “Spiritual Rhythm “
~ Darren L. Beattie, The Soul Blogger of TrueLifeChristianity.com ~