chance (noun): an opportunity to do or achieve something
The book of Ecclesiastes might seem quite depressing when reading at first because it essentially downplays the importance of most things you and I would consider important and considers them all meaningless. Solomon, for the most part, refers to activities that are done outside of the guidance of God so most of what he talks about are things that men chase and keep themselves busy with, rather than spending time on the things of God that may not bring the same level of pleasure. Keyword here is pleasure because this is usually a result of giving in to lustful desires... Anyway, the purpose of this post is to reflect on Solomon's writings with regards to busyness. I came across something God ministered to me last year, about Luke 10:30 - 35 which tells the story of the Good Samaritan.
There were three people who came across the man who had been robbed and only one did the right thing. What led the other two to continue without stopping? I believe they were 'busy'. Think about the activities of a priest who was probably on his way to the temple and the Levite who probably had some work to do in the temple also. What business do they have stopping to help someone when they need to be in the temple doing God's work? This parable marks a significant shift in what God intended for us to focus on and what tools we would need to really do his will. The Samaritan stopped because he had compassion (love) and this is the same thing that moved Jesus to do the many miracles he performed in His ministry. Not once did Jesus miss an opportunity (or chance) to do something good, even when His disciples wanted to keep Him to His 'itinerary'.
The book of Luke specifically states that the priest who came across the man who had been robbed, did so by chance. They were both presented with an opportunity to do God's work and failed to recognise the opportunity because it probably didn't fit into their schedule. Have you ever been in a hurry to get somewhere but sacrificed a bit of time to help someone else, e.g. extending your journey home after a long day to give someone a lift home? Writing this reminded me of an opportunity I had today to do just that. As 4pm hit, I hurriedly packed my stuff up because I was eager to get into my car and continue listening to the Myles Munroe book which was blessing me so much. I saw someone from my office who looked quite content walking home in the drizzling rain and I was so tempted to just keep driving and pretend I hadn't seen her but my spirit would not let me and the thought of doing that gave me severe anxiety. After dropping her home, I felt like I had done something I was meant to do; like I had completed an assignment I had for the day. And guess what, after she got home, I was still blessed by the book I was listening to!
The priest and the Levite walked 'on the other side' and literally walked around their purpose. God's instruction to us was to love our neighbours and if we do nothing else, that will be a sacrifice that God will happily accept, rather than a religious act of worship from a cold heart. In Ecclesiastes 9:11, Solomon sees that even for those who are focused on achieving their own goals, building wealth, etc., time and chance eventually happen to us all and this overtakes any other work that is done. For me, this means life is about looking for those opportunities to do something that falls outside of the rat race we are in to accomplish something that is much better. As great as work was for me today, and as great as all my meetings went, I have to admit that the highlight of my day was taking the opportunity God gave me to show love to my colleague.
As God prepares me for ministry, I know He is teaching me these lessons because for some, like the priest and the Levite, ministry has become more about hurrying to the next place or ministration, without stopping to recognise those opportunities that God presents us because they are not what we are looking for. It is very rare to find people now who actively look out for ways to be a blessing to others. Like Solomon says:
"Vanity of vanities! All [that is done without God's guidance] is vanity [futile, meaningless - a wisp of smoke, a vapour that vanishes, merely chasing the wind]." Ecclesiastes 1:2
What will you chase....?