“The end of the matter is better than the beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools… Consider what God has done. Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are bad, consider: God has made one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.” Ecclesiastes 7:8, 13-14
I jotted this passage in my journal on August 31, along with a personal reflection:
“It is easy to be proud when you are plotting out your plans for accomplishing great things – but it is going to take a lot of patience to work through the inevitable setbacks and frustrations to get there. And the fruit of your labor is better than the mere dream of it. Things may not go as you plan, though. It could be that the Lord’s ultimate goal is different than your dream. He wants character in you that is humble (recognizing his control, not ours) and enduring (able to withstand the tests) and kind to the people you meet along the way. And the future will unfold, the story will be told, even if it seems “crooked” and meandering.”
Looking back a few meandering months later, I am glad for the encouragement of my own words. I need them right now in the middle of my life, in my crooked times. Isn’t that one of the beauties of keeping a journal? I can write courage and wisdom into my own future. The story does unfold, but it isn’t always clear or pleasant as it happens. We don’t always know what will happen next, but whatever it is, we will need strength and grace. The same day I wrote that journal entry, I started reading Luci Shaw’s book Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit: Reflections on Creativity and Faith, which I have also mentioned in my posts Ivory and Gray and Is My Head in the Clouds? This quote made it into my journal a few pages later:
“We try, in the moment, to make sense out of what may often seem horrifying, incongruous, paradoxical, irrelevant, and absurd, while retaining a kind of eschatological hope that God’s order, peace, design, and glory will fill all the spaces in our widely scattered personal and cosmic jigsaw puzzles.”
I am glad for the encouragement of her words, too. Jigsaw puzzle indeed.
Thanksgiving is in two days. In light of that, I will say that I am grateful that God is in control, whatever happens, and that I know I am growing and enduring in ways I had not imagined before. I am also very mindful of the kindness of family and friends.
Joy and peace to you,
P.S. You may also wish to read my poems “Between the Seed and the Tree”, “This Is My Song and I Sing”, and “Grace Will Lead Me Home”, which all reflect some of the same themes I have written here today.