Chasing the Wind LCBC 8-22-99pm Introduction Parents rate their inability to spend enough time with their children as the greatest threat to the family. In a survey conducted for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Corp. , 35 percent pointed to time constraints as the most important reason for the decline in family values. Another 22 percent mentioned a lack of parental discipline. While 63 percent listed family as their greatest source of pleasure, only 44 percent described the quality of family life in America as good or excellent. And only 34 percent expected it to be good or excellent by 1999. Despite their expressed desire for more family time, two-thirds of those surveyed say they would probably accept a job that required more time away from home if it offered higher income or greater prestige. This may be what has brought the downfall of the American family. People are working longer hours with less to show for it and are spending more time away from their family. Not only that, but when they are at home, they usually too busy getting caught up on other things to have very much quality time with their families. I think that many people are chasing the wind. If you ran really quickly, could you catch the wind? If you were the fastest sprinter on the planet could you catch the wind? If you were in the fastest car, could you catch the wind? No, even if you did meet up with it, it would still slip through your fingers. Tonight, I want to ask you if you are chasing the wind. This phenomenon was originally defined by the writer of Ecclesiastes. Let's examine some of us thoughts this evening: Read Text- Ecclesiastes 4:4-6 People are so very busy in our society. Why? This writer may have some of the answers: T.S.- Are you chasing the wind? I Wind-chasing often springs from envy (v.4) Exposition The writer of ecclesiastes searched for the meaning of life. He felt that riches, endless toil, and pleasures were all meaningless in the end. He does admit that these things have a temporary value, but that the only ultimate source of meaning is God. God was the one thing that was not meaningless. In is examination of those who are constantly busy, busy, busy, working harder and harder and harder he noted that a lot of people's efforts stem from "man's envy of his neighbor." As such he declares that people are chasing the wind, which in the end is meaningless. Application Have you ever thought about a friend or neighbors house, clothes, cars, or even money and wished they were yours? Has the thought of being able to afford certain luxuries or purchase certain things motivated you to work longer and longer hours? If so, this writer would name you a wind-chaser. Examine your motives. Examine the things you desire. Do you really need them? Are they really that in important? Because in the end your house, your car, your clothes, your bank account, your favorite or most desired thing will not matter at all. The only thing that will count for something is your relationship with God. When your busyness affects your time with your family it has a negative effect. You only have so many hours in a day. Do you make a conscious effort to set aside time to spend with your family? Or do you spend all your time away from work rushing around and doing other things? Ill.- A young boy once asked his father how much money he made an hour. The father had jsut come home from work and was irritated by the question. He thought, that kid wants to know how much I make so he can hit me up to by him something. The Dad looked at the boy and said gruffly, "That's none of your business." The boy teared up, but kept silent and left his Dad alone. The father began feeling guilty about it and when it was time to put his son to bed, he decided to tell the boy. He said, "son, I make somewhere around 25.00$ an hour." The boy smiled and said, "Daddy can I borrow $15.00?" The Father was instantly furious. "I knew it!!," he said, "You just wanted to know so you could go buy something!" The boy started to cry again and was really noisy about it, which made the father angrier thinking he would not be swayed by his tears this time. He left the boy to cry himself to sleep. The next morning he felt a little guilty, because he rarely had any time to spend with his son, so before he left for work he pulled out $15.00 and gave it to him. The boy's face lit up and he ran up to his room and came back down. He handed his Dad $25.00. The father said what is this for? The boy smiled and said, "Daddy, I want to buy one hour of your time." Are things really that bad? A recent survey showed that Father's spend less than five minutes of meaningful interaction with each of their children a day. Are you chasing the wind? T.S.- The writer of Ecclesiastes does not care much for wind chasing, but he does not that honest work does have value. II Wind-chasing is not solved with laziness (v. 5) Exposition The writer notes that a fool just refuses to work. He just sits on his hands and does nothing. What would be the end result if you just decided to never work again? You would be ruined along with the fool. Application Never think for a moment that I have been suggesting that people should not work and when they do work hard. The Bible again and again validates the importance of honest labor, it is sinful to be lazy and not work for the money you are paid. Or even to not work at all and not provide for your family. It is sinful to not provide for your family. It is also sinful to reward someone who is too lazy to work. Paul once wrote that if a man won't work, neither is he to have any bread. In other words, no loaf for the loafer. Which is what our government is doing. When you refuse to work at all, you become ruined. Laziness is sinful and it ruins a person in the end. It is not the solution for those that no longer want to chase the wind. T.S.- The writer of Ecclesiastes does have a solution. He believes that work and other busyness needs to have a balance. III Wind-chasing is solved by balancing busyness with tranquility (v. 6) Exposition Look at what he says in v 6, instead of folding your hands together, make sure one hand is full of "tranquility". The word for tranquility is the Hebrew word for rest. Rest means more than the absence of physical activity. It also conveys a rest of your mind. Prov. 29:17 uses the word advises that correcting one's son will give you psychological rest. It is also the same word used in the ten commandments. Remember who God all along knew we needed to rest. He commanded that we set aside one-day for this purpose and devote it totally to him. This rest is not only physical and mental, but also spiritual. It means a rest whereby you are spiritually at peace with God. Our writer to tells to have one handful of this rest, the other of course is to be filled with work. He again notes that two hands filled to the brim with work and busyness is silly, because you are only chasing the wind. Application The thing to remember from this passage is that your work, your busyness needs to be balanced with rest. This rest is to be all-encompassing. Not only should it be physical rest, but also mental rest. An escape from your fears, worries and anxieties. The writer might have suggested a rest from the envy that causes people to work harder and harder and harder. This rest also has a spiritual deminsion. It means that you have rest for your soul when you are in a right relationship with God. One that is caught up. If you have to many things to do, not enough time to read the Bible, pray, come to church, or do those other things you should be doing to get closer to God, you are chasing the wind. Which, of course, is meaningless, because you will never catch it. In fact, you may instead catch the blazing blast of God's wrath. Are you chasing the wind? Ill.- My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. "Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least 8 or 9 years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion." He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment, then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion." I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special. I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event—such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends.' "Someday" and "one of these days" are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we take for granted. I think she'd have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing—I'll never know. It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with—someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write "one of these days." Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, I tell myself that it is special. Every day, every minute, every breath truly is a gift from God. Conclusion This is really the key to having that hand full of rest. Take time to enjoy life. Don't get caught up in the rush for things, because they do not matter in the long run. If you will take time to enjoy life, which in fact is a gift from God, you will have tranquility of the mind, body, and soul. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow's flight, and then young Frank's tracks meandering all over the field. "Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again," his uncle said. "And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that." Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life. "I determined right then," he'd say with a twinkle in his eye, "not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had." Just determine that as you do the best you can to enjoy this life that God has given to you, that you give that life completely to God. You may then find that God will blow some of his divine breath in your direction. Isn't that what the Bible says, "seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all those things will be added unto you." Are you chasing the wind? Your chase is futile and in the end meaningless. Stop being busy and enjoy your life, just make sure you dedicate it to God. I knelt to pray but not for long, I had too much to do. I had to hurry and get to work For bills would soon be due. So I knelt and said a hurried prayer, And jumped up off my knees. My Christian duty was now done My soul could rest at ease. All day long I had no time To spread a word of cheer. No time to speak of Christ to friends, They'd laugh at me I'd fear. No time, no time, too much to do, That was my constant cry, No time to give to souls in need But at last the time, the time to die. I went before the Lord, I came, I stood with downcast eyes. For in his hands God held a book; It was the book of life. God looked into his book and said "Your name I cannot find. I once was going to write it down... But never found the time." If you spend your life chasing the wind and you are a Christian, God would probably like to tell you that when you stand before him, your misplaced priorities will be covered by the blood of Christ.
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