After reading 4 chapters into Ecclesiastes, I conclude that Solomon had a one track mind. Everything is vanity--in other words, alone, all is futile.
But amid his comments about the futility of life, he loudly proclaims something I hadn't noticed before, though I had read it many times.
"There is one alone, and there is not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brotehr: yet is there no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither saith he, For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This is also vanity, yea, it is a sore travail.
"Two are better than one; becasue they have a good reward for their laour. For is they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken" (Eccl. 4:8-12).
I've read the second paragraph a number of times. But I'd never noticed that it was preceded by the description of a man who lives solely unto himself.
He gets up everyday, works himself to death, is never satisfied with what he has and thus works harder. But for what? He has no children, therefore no wife. He has no brothers, sisters, friends, that he cares for. He only lives to himself.
I have heard it before: "no man is an island." We all somehow contribute to someone else, whether bad or good. Is Solomon saying this isn't true? Not exactly.
What he is saying is that you can live to yourself, but you'll be miserable.
Two. Better than one. And why?
You can help each other up.
There is warmth, of heart and life. (Notice that the man living to himself doesn't have that. He's cold, cold of heart and mind.)
If one tries something funny, two will withstand.
In short, when there are two, you are ideally unselfish. There is love. (And for those of you who think I'm preaching heresy, a two is not necessarily a 'couple.' This goes for you and whomever else might be around you.)
But, we're human. I've seen plenty of 'twos' who were horribly selfish. How is this supposed to work?
Solomon wasn't quite finished. He goes on to add, 'And a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
Three? It's sounding like two on their own won't quite get all the way to that unselfishness bit. But add a Third, and suddenly, you're there.
It's not difficult to see what Solomon is saying.
One, to himself? Miserable.
Two, on their own? Better.
But welcome that heavenly Third? Best.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
It's coming. They're coming. It's here.
And I get excited, as usual. For 8 years now, I've been getting excited.
However, I once was not excited.
2007: I stepped out of the car that summer, scared stiff and looking the part. I didn't really want to be here. I mean, honestly, these people were weird. I didn't know them, had never seen them, but I'd read that handbook--probably 25 times or more. I just knew I was staring boot camp in the face; complete with wearing a skirt all day, every day, for an entire week. I was convinced this was a kamikaze mission.
2008: A little less harsh, a little more open, but still afraid. Excited now. Hoping for the best...and remember the amazing, overwhelming wash of Christ I'd received the year before. I'm in a unit with who this year? And she's my counselor? Why in the world am I taking Literature Evangelism? Can I dare to open myself up?
2009: A friend in tow. More excitement. More open. More of a smile. Still fearing. Breathing deeply that camp smell. Shivering from anticipation. Looking at LE again. Something feels a little different...but what?
2010: Bounce out of the car. Exuberance, but you wouldn't know if you looked at me. Still locked up, but bubbling over inside. Skirts all day? No problem. Even more of a smile. Two weeks this year. Literature evangelist again. Applying for the Mission Experience. Yes, I like it...I love it. Home away from home.
2011: Early arrival. Counselor. Nervous, still silent, but changed, greatly changed. Girls, schedules, procedures and responsibility. Staggering proposal of internship. Inner wings wanting to stretch....
2012: No arrival this year. I've been here since September. Excitement building, but sitting in the office most of the day. Watching the activity from the outside. Dissatisfied, even almost unhappy, and yet, almost... Almost there...
2013: First time as staff. Proofreading, photography, and any number of odd jobs. Song in heart, smile on face, such a different drum beating inside. Happier, more open, more satisfied, more...
2014: No arrival again. No departure when all's over. Eagerly anticipating others arrival. Satisfied. A little shy and quiet, but no longer closed, no chains, no prison, no bars. Happy.
And, most of all, waiting to see who's going to be freed this year.
I can trace who I now am back to a hot summer in July, 8 years ago, when a 14 year old captive set foot on a little campus in the sticks of Washington. God, through Young Disciple, has made the difference in my life. It's taken a captive and taken her to a calling.
Every once in awhile, I see counselors run past the window. And I smile. I wonder whose life-journey is going to begin here this year...