He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. – Ecclesiastes 3:11-14
For most school-aged children, June is the greatest month of the year. This is because June houses that wonderful day known as “The First Day of Summer Vacation!” I know that Christmas, birthdays, and Halloween are also big calendar moments each year, but overall, I don’t think they match the joy of day 1 of summer vacation. Think about it – you’re as far away from a school day as you get throughout the entire year. Your whole summer; filled with cookouts, swimming, bike rides, and vacations awaits you. But have you ever notice how even that joy can change as the years go by? I have two kids. My five year old daughter is amazed at how long the summer is – overjoyed by weeks of playing on the swing and toasting marshmallows. To her, summer and its possibilities are endless. In time, however, that view will change. Take my soon to be twelve year old son. He too is happy to have started his vacation, but he realizes that June is already half over, soon the days will begin to get shorter, Independence Day is just around the corner, then it’s only a few weeks before “Back to School” sales appear in the stores.
Now one could look at these opposing views and merely conclude it’s all in your perspective – the glass is half empty or half full. I don’t think it’s that simple. Don’t believe me? Then tell me truthfully that you have never longed to go back to a scholastic summer vacation schedule, or that you have never stopped midway through your one or two week vacation, frozen by the realization that you’ve only got a few days left before you head back to work for the next 50 weeks.
One of the more interesting concepts of life that we deal with is time. Historians are paid to study days gone by. Effective leaders must be able to use indicators to plot a course for the future. Inventors and science-fiction writers dream up things that will completely alter the way we live. Mp3 players were unheard of when I graduated from high school, as were cell phones and notebook computers for the previous generation. Things we enjoy grow old and leave us wondering where the time went. Think of your favorite TV shows. It’s been 6 years since the finale of Friends. Seinfeld’s been gone for 12 years. Cheer’s ended its run 17 years ago, and the last episode of MASH aired 27 years ago. Where did the time go? Conversely, what will we be watching 27 years from now? With new technologies being introduced, filled with greater capabilities and conveniences, it’s hard to imagine what life will be like in the year 2037.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 explains this best when it says that man “cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” If you look at life with your peripheral vision, you’ll see what I mean. Though it seems like yesterday, my son was born twelve years ago. Though it feels like it’s an eternity away, in only twelve years from now he’ll be a college graduate, starting a career, and possibly married. That’s scary, this is scarier: twelve years from now my daughter will be seventeen. While this revelation is still rocking my world, I take comfort in the knowledge that this phenomenon is natural. It’s a part of God’s design for creation. So instead of clinging to the past or charging toward the future, I can best serve Him by simply living the life He has created for me now, here, today. God directs us to do this in verse 12: “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.
Appreciate yesterday, anticipate tomorrow, but accentuate today.