Thursday, April 9, 2009


When my Dad entered the hospital for the last time, something deep inside of me knew it was his time to go home to the Lord. Yet, I had a tenacious hold on HOPE and FAITH that God would not take MY Dad. And nagging at the back of my mind was the fact that God is God and just because I ask…well….more like beg, HE is not obligated to give me what I want. I wanted my Dad and this was a really BIG BIGGIE in my life. With that, once again, I began mulling the “time thing” over and over in my mind.

Many times in the past, I had wrestled with the belief that we each had an appointed time to be born and to die. Now…in January 2004, I was face to face with the issue. I had to know… I struggled with the “time to die” concept mainly because it is clear that many people died prematurely, by our standards, by accident, suicide or murder. I cannot believe that a loving God sits on His throne and decides, before birth, that someone will be murdered, or die a horrible death in a fire, auto accident, suicide, or even a slow suicide by addictions or any death that is not a natural death. I do believe that in many cases, it was the free will choices that led to an early death. We all have free will and I believe that the very same free will changes things. For instance, I do not believe that at some time before a drug addict was born that God “decided” the specific date the addict would die and that it would be by drug overdose. No…our God is not like that…of this, I am sure. A drug addict has free will and it was that free will that ultimately takes the addict’s life because he/she chose to use drugs. God didn’t choose that for anyone. I pondered the “time to die” scripture for a very long time and I could never completely wrap my mind around it. Many times the timing of one thing hinges on an earlier event. We can take it all back to the free will that has been given by God and the domino effect that will follow a free will decision.

On the other side of the coin, I do believe that God has a plan for each life…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares
The Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
Plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

And that MAY include an appointed time to die…IF that person lives a righteous life according to the known Word of God, which is God’s will, and not by their own free will by pursuing things not righteous. If a person lives a righteous life and the full measure that God had for him had been lived out, as I believe my Dad did, then I can agree that just possibly we have a specific moment in our future when we will meet God. Well, this will not be the spoiler blog…you will have to wait until the end of the study of Ecclesiastes to see why I believe this and how it played out in my spirit to this conclusion…

Before we dig into Chapter 3, I need to say that the Book of Ecclesiastes is a philosophical book and is the only book of the Bible that is the closest to pure philosophy. These were Solomon’s thoughts, impressions and beliefs. The Book of Ecclesiastes IS God inspired, but it is not a statement of fact, nor is it a rule book. Ecclesiastes should not be taken literally, but, instead, should provide food for thought and spiritual growth. For me, the book was beneficial in putting life into perspective. As this study progresses, I hope it will do the same for others.

In Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, Solomon recognizes that there are established patterns in nature and of life. There IS a “time” for everything under the sun. At the end of a gestation period, it is time to give birth. Every person will die at “some time”. A farmer plants one time of the year and reaps at another time of the year. A time to kill may pertain to warfare, considering the author of the book and the time in history. I remind myself that these are Solomon’s thoughts; therefore I must also consider the events of his time and his experiences during the same time. Considering all of that, I must look at the “time verses” in the same light as by Solomon. When he states in verse 1 that to everything, there is a season. I look at that as an interesting statement because seasons are not all alike. For instance, in planting season, the time that you plant may hinge on the last frost; yet planting must take place during a specific time frame – a season... In Florida, we have a “rainy season”. We don’t always have a lot of rain during rainy season, but it is still “rainy season”. Things change – seasons change – our seasons are defined by what we normally expect, but we recognize that the abnormal does show up – out of season. We have a ready example this week. It is the Spring Season. In spring, we think of new and tender shoots of green beginning to grow, early flowers, the sun warming us after a long winter. But, this week, the first week of April, there was snow in places where no more snow was expected. Yesterday in Florida, the “March Winds” arrived…in April and last night was unseasonably cold…for Florida. It really doesn’t feel like the spring season as we know it, yet the calendar tells us it is spring. I think we can safely say that time marches on and seasons will repeat themselves year after year, but there will be deviations from the normal. And, I think we can see that we cannot attach rigid specifics to time or seasons. In my humble opinion, I believe this is what Solomon means in his “time” verses.
.. ..
Recognizing that our life comes down to be just “a season”, Solomon re-examines the labor in our lives. Certainly some labor is necessary to provide those things we need – food, shelter and clothing. But, he quickly moves from the aspect of physical labor into the realm of God-given tasks.

What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
I have seen the God-given task with which the
Sons of men are to be occupied.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Also He has put eternity in their hearts,
Except that no one can find out the work that
God does from the beginning to end.
Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

Solomon recognizes that God exists and that, though His ways are mysterious, they are right. Our whole life is in God’s hands and our attitudes, actions and beliefs towards and about God will determine what kind of life we have IN Him or without Him. We cannot know all that our human condition desires to know about God, but what we do know is that for the man who seeks God, things begin to make sense. Not only does he see life in a new light, but he acquires wisdom, knowledge and joy. This is the gift from God for the man who seeks Him and who loves God enough to submit and obey Him. And, can we all agree that when we seek to really know God, our life may well be as He desired for us? That we may live that “full measure” that God intended for us at the moment of our conception?

But, you say… WHOA… What about the person who is living for God, but dies suddenly in the prime of life, through no action of his own??? Well, I can only remind you that God has mysterious ways and we cannot see or understand neither the beginning, nor the end. This leaves only TRUST and FAITH. Sometimes that is all you have to hang onto in times of trial, but hang on you must!

In verse 11, I find a curious statement that God has put eternity in our hearts. In my own philosophizing, I believe that to mean that God has put in our hearts the desire to really know God, to please God and to, eventually, spend eternity with God. To me, that is the ultimate joy. Therefore, I think that Solomon recognizes the same and that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice, do good, eat, drink and enjoy their lives, which is the gift of God. Yet, all the while, we can rest in the assurance that all is well in our spirits when we place our faith and trust in God and live a life pleasing to God. And when the things come that we do not understand, we do well to remind ourselves….

I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should
Fear before Him.
Ecclesiastes 3:14

Fear: acknowledge, honor, respect. For understanding, please read my blog – Fear the Lord – dated 8/11/08.

Further, Solomon understands there will be judgment, “God shall judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.” (vs. 17)

Solomon decides that we are no different than the animal. “As one dies, so does the other”; man has no advantage over the animal; all is vanity (vs. 19). “All go to one place: all are from the dust, and all return to dust.” (vs. 20) In verse 21, Solomon concedes that man really doesn’t know if a man’s spirit goes up and the animal’s spirit goes down to the earth. This scripture pleases me because I have had many, many pets in my lifetime…each one dear to me, grieved and greatly missed after they were gone. Many view this verse as being the know all, end all verse that confirms that there will not be animals in heaven. To that I say… Hogwash! We do not know where spirits go – not man and not animal. The wisest man ever to walk the face of the earth, Solomon, did not understand this mystery either. To look into the eyes of a beloved pet, one KNOWS BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT that there is intelligence, understanding, love, need – a soul and a SPIRIT. It’s all there….in the eyes…the window to the soul.

So, you see…man is not that different from an animal and in that, Solomon was correct… We all die and return to dust, but we do not know where each spirit will go. It is all speculation while in the flesh, therefore, I save the energy it would take to argue whether my beloved pets will be in heaven or not. I believe they will and that is enough for me!

I’m going to digress for a minute…. I often said that everything I know about FAITH, I learned from my dog. This is true… I had a wonderful dog who lived to be 17 years old. Her name was Elvira. Elvira was with me during my faith-growing years. I learned much from her. She trusted me. She knew that she didn’t have to bark or act out to get my attention because she knew that I would take care of her every need. She believed that I would feed her when she was hungry. She understood that I cared for her and would always do so. She had FAITH that I would be there for her in every situation. I came to understand that FAITH in God is likewise…through the eyes of my dog!

Elvira knew that I loved her. And, I knew that Elvira loved me with the purest love known – that unconditional love rarely displayed in man, yet found in abundance in a dog. Given that capacity to LOVE…do you think for one minute that God does not have a place in heaven for animals? But, like Solomon, I do not know where our spirit will go. However, like Elvira, I have faith that God knows the love between man and pet, for who do we think PUT that love into the spirit of a beloved pet? And that FAITH lets me believe that one day our spirits, mine and Elvira’s, will dwell together in the same place.

And then there is this to consider… in God’s new heaven & earth (Isaiah 65:17-25), there are ANIMALS ~ CANINES (WOLVES) AND FELINES (LIONS)!!!

Thank you for bearing with me while I remembered Elvira. She was a blessing! And, I do so hope to see her again one bright day ~ when we all are together again in God’s new heaven and earth!

WELL!!! THAT being said…. Back to Solomon – who concludes Chapter 3 with his perception that nothing is better than that we should rejoice in our works, for that is our heritage and we cannot see into the future anyway.

Chapter 3 is the very reason that I was led to study the Book of Ecclesiastes in 2004. I pretty much knew that the chances of my Dad surviving another heart surgery at age 75 was slim. When he was admitted to the hospital, I began garnering strength from wherever I could from God’s Word. Ecclesiastes 3:2 naturally came to mind and while I was reading, His Holy Spirit came strongly to my consciousness to show me that this book was where my strength would come from. Trusting the Lord in all that I had within me, I embarked on a study that not only carried me through the difficult days ahead at that time, but other difficult days and situations since that time. Not because it is a “rule book”, but because the Book of Ecclesiastes makes you think about what you really believe…. At least it did for me and I am hoping for the same for YOU.

May God bless each of you who remained while I rambled on in thoughts and about my dog during the study of Chapter 3. I pray that you will join me in Chapter 4 soon.

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