I spent the afternoon raking up the refuse the snowblower threw into the yard over this long, particularly white winter. Gray- inches deep. Billions of bits of gravel and stone and I raked the grass raw. Back hunched and dust swirled. The red teeth of rake combed through the new shoots and withery dead and brought the stragglers home.
It’s a terrible job, but somebody’s got to do it. And that somebody was me today. Tomorrow I’ll wake up 87 years old, muscles stiff and complaining. And then I’ll have to do the other side of the driveway.
As I raked, and I raked, and I raked, I thought,
I never want to do this again.
And then reality hit upside the head and I sulked in the realization that in roughly a year from now, I’ll be doing it again. And the year after that. And the year after that.
With each brush of dirt, “there is nothing new under the sun,” swept through my brain.
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
A little gray and depressing like my gravel-y yard. King Solomon saw what I’m seeing now. Monotony. Days that come and go like those pebble-studded snow drifts. Wearisome work. And for what?
For a taste for something more. For a divine emptiness that needs filling. A starving ache that needs to be satisfied, and not just with temporary sustenance. Because tomorrow might find that my bowl-full-of-cherries life isn’t so sweet.
I’ve tasted the sweet. Family. Marriage. Births. Comfort. Pleasures. And though they satisfy my sweet tooth, they can’t and won’t sustain me because sometimes life is sour. I’ve, thankfully, tasted little of it. Sickness. Death. Loss. Pain.
But when life offers that sour cherry, will I, like so many billions under the same sun, shake my fist and curse the sky? I hope not. I’m working on not.
I’m coming to understand that the growlings- the raking chores, life’s annoyances, these light and momentary troubles- are for a reason.
I’m hungry. For more than a bowl full of cherries. I’m hungry for something that fills me so that I’m never hungry again.
If all of life is sweet then I never want more. If I can get my fix off of career successes, pockets full, and fairy-tale love stories, then why would I need Him? Why would I want Him? I can be my very own god, thank-you-very-much, and fill my own hunger.
Until those things lose some of their sweetness. Until this world gives me a piece of humble pie. Until something so sour rocks me to the core and I’m left with only sweet memories and a gnawing hunger for more time, more health, more love.
Then Jesus said, “I am the bread that gives life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35
What I’m really hungering for is the life He intended. He intended Eden and what we settled for was anything but. He intended life without pain or death or sadness. He intended life where He and I would walk and talk in the cool of the day through His garden. He intended that I’d be so full of Him that I’d never look for a bite of anything else. No gnaw. No hunger.
I don’t have that life. Sin changes things that way.
But I have a hope.
Of things only glimpsed.
Like the other night when I smoothed the hair of two babies who cried for me in the pitch black. Two babies, living in the nightmare-world, who heard the sound of their parent’s voice through the veil. Two babies who never woke up into reality, but caught a glimpse. A glimpse of a mother’s hug, a hand to hold, a way through the scary. And they held on tight.
And I have a way- Him who fills my longing, my hunger, my thirst.
And so, my Father, I pray that I would grab hold of your outstretched hand and not let go ’til I’m walking and talking with you, as You first intended, in your garden. I pray that I’d stuff myself with You. Full. Don’t let me pretend that anything else satisfies quite like You. Because I know it doesn’t. I know.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8