People. Creatures of habit. Too many of us live like the sign on the rugged Alaskan Highway:
CHOOSE YOUR RUT CAREFULLY ... YOU'LL BE IN IT FOR THE NEXT 200 MILES.
Let's admit it. We like ruts ... especially comfortable ones. It has been said that a rut is nothing more than a grave with both ends knocked out. Predictable and familiar, ruts offer us security. Like a numbing narcotic, however, we waste a lot of our lives "drugged" in ruts.
Children resist ruts. As I attempt to raise five, I'm challenged by their probing questions. I'm told a child asks at least 1/4 million questions growing up. No wonder they learn so rapidly ... and stay out of ruts.
Adults don't question enough. Daily we climb on the merry-go-round of life and ritualistically get off—dizzy. Too fuzzy in our thinking to ask any profound questions, we continue searching for happiness and significance in the wrong places. Out of our insecurities we accelerate the pace of our lives with little regard for direction or destiny. As one man put it, "Most live a lifetime looking for the pot at the end of the rainbow; only to find a pot of salty liver soup."
A lesson from Solomon
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon challenges us to ponder and consider the ruts in our life. He challenges us to think about where life is found. To stop, get out of the ruts, and ponder where we are going … to think.
In chapters one and two of Ecclesiastes, Solomon reflects on his own life and where he has sought satisfaction ... in knowledge and intelligence 1:12-18, … pleasure 2:1-3, ... in a strong work ethic 2:4, ... in hobbies 2:5-6, … sessions and things 2:7-8, ... and in position in life 2:9.
For the most part, Solomon's conclusion has shouted an unheeded warning through the centuries ... "All is vanity when you leave God out."
What a conclusion to come to at the end of his life: a wasted life in a quest for happiness trying to quench the unrelenting thirst for significance and meaning in life.
Like a shaft of light breaking into Solomon's dark prison of despair come his words in 2:12, "So I turned to consider wisdom ..."
In a word, Solomon stopped pursuing and started thinking. He thought about life through God's eyes.
Today we don't like to think. It's too hard. There aren't enough immediate results there. We don't know how. We don't have time. Quiet, reflective silence is as endangered as the bald eagle. In fact, historian Carl Sandberg wrote, "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude."
We can live for a few minutes without air, for a few days without water, for a couple of months without food, and for a lifetime without an original thought.
Like Solomon, I'm learning the lost art of thinking ... of thinking right about life. Do you want to know some of the questions I'm mentally wrestling with right now?
- What do I really believe?
- Why am I doing what I do?
- What drives me?
- What really has brought satisfaction to my life?
- What creates pressure in my life? What does God want me to do about it? Is it right?
- What really is valuable in life?
- Does my schedule reflect my ultimate values?
- How will my present lifestyle affect my family in 20 years?
- What does God want me to do with my life, family, and possessions?
I'm learning that thinking is gritty, lonesome work if God isn't at the center. He has encouraged me that He is still in the business of creating new original thoughts, life-changing ideas … innovations that will redirect our families and shape the destiny of our homes. I'm learning that real thinking is a pioneering work.
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