Tag Archives: Dallas Willard

Your Fifteen Minutes of Fame

He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end…I perceived that whatever God does endures forever, nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it.  God has done it, so that people fear before Him.  I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts.  Ecclesiastes 3:11,14,18

There are three ‘so that’s’ or ‘that’s’ in these verses.  The first one is: God has put eternity in our hearts yet so that we can’t find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.  In other words, God has put a longing in our hearts for the infinite, or the eternal, but He has rigged it so that we can really only know the finite.

We have a longing for eternity but yet we can’t figure it all out because we’re limited in time and space.  We  have a yearning for something more, because we have souls that are eternal.  We are really made for a relationship with God almighty.  We all have a God sized hole in our hearts that is only filled with Him.  Some people figure it out, some never do.  Those that don’t spin around in all different sorts of directions, filling that hole with a variety of things.

The second ‘so that’ is that God is eternal and His works last forever.  God has made it that way so that we would fear Him.  Solomon doesn’t embellish this fact much, he just states it.  God is infinite, and we’re not, so we ought to fear Him.

The final ‘that’ is in verse 18: I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they are but beasts.  In other words, God is God and we are not.  He wants us to know how much we need Him.  The thing we all have in common is that in a hundred years we’ll all be dead.  In that way, we are like the beasts of the fields.  There has to be a meaning to the life we are given, because one day we will die.

There is a classic little book, A Confession, by Leo Tolstoy.  He wrote it in 1882.  It’s an Tolstoyinteresting read, not very long, and although he was a Russian intellectual, it’s very easy to follow his logic and his journey toward God.  I highly recommend it.  In his search for God, he read Ecclesiastes, as well as Buddha and Schopenhauer (a German philosopher).

Tolstoy’s real faith was in himself and in his own perfect will, to be better in the eyes of other people.  But he found it all meaningless.  He realized that he was paid well to be a teacher, but he really didn’t know much of anything.  By the age of 50 he was obsessed with suicide, keeping loose ropes away from himself lest he hang himself on a beam.

His question was, “Why do I live?”  His answer up that point was, “In infinite space, in infinite time, infinitely small particles change their forms in infinite complexity, and when you understood the laws of those mutations of form you will understand why you live on the earth.”  ( From Chapter 5)

Another way of saying it: “You are an accidentally united little lump of something that ferments and become life.  Then one day it disintegrates and there will be an end of the fermenting and of all the questions.”  If that’s true, then why do we cry out for our ’15 minutes of fame,’ as Andy Warhol first tagged it?  Or, as Dallas Willard puts it in The Divine Conspiracy, (pg. 9) why did ever people want to be ‘The Oscar Meyer Wiener’ where everyone will be in love with me?

Tolstoy eventually moved from having faith in himself and in only the rational knowledge, which brought futility to having a faith in irrational knowledge which was found in admitting that there was a God.  He didn’t find this faith by being with the other rich intellectuals.  In his search for meaning, he found it by spending time with the peasants.  They worked in heavy labor but were content in life.  He spent the rest of his days living a simple life with them, sorting out a faith in God.

Tolstoy discovered in his late fifties what Solomon wrote about.  Our hunger for meaning in life and significance is a signal of what God planted in us.  It’s who we are and why we are here.  We were made by an infinite, eternal God.  We bear His image.  We were meant to count, just like water is made to run downhill.  God has placed eternity in our hearts, with souls that live on after we die.  That’s what makes us different than animals.  One day we will all stand and give an account to our Creator.

So if you get an urge to try out for ‘American Idol’ or to  do something to make a mark, know it is because God has placed eternity in your heart.  You were made to count because you’re more than just an accidental lump of something that evolved from some primordial goo.  You were made by a God who loves you, knows you by name, and has a plan for your life.  You don’t have to worry about having loose ropes laying around, and that’s good news.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Daylight Savings Time

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.  Ephesians 5:15-18

I’ve been thinking about these verses a lot since Daylight Savings Time hit a couple of a-clock-character-running-concept-for-running-out-of-time-or-work-C7G3W1.jpgweeks ago.  Ironically, I’ve been too busy running from one demand to the next to even be able to process anything.  That’s how crazy this time crunch thing is.  And then we get an hour ‘taken away from us’ every Spring.  I was thinking maybe we should change our clocks on Friday afternoons at 2 instead of Saturdays at midnight, and then we would think of it as a bonus: “Hey, I can’t wait–this Friday is our free hour!”  That is instead of us grumbling about losing an hour for a month.

But my time issue is bigger than losing an hour, just like it is for most of us.  I’m a big football fan, specifically a Green Bay Packer fan.  I lived through the years when Brett Favre went through his years of “I’m retiring,” and then he’d cry his eyes out, and then he wasn’t retiring and on the saga would go.  I realized why he had such a fight with it all, especially the older I get…once he hangs up his cleats, all he’s got is game film.  No more last minute heroics, no more chances at the Super Bowl, or being the league MVP…just game film.

CT Studd said, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”  Our game film is different.  I’m well aware of that as I spend most of my time and energy working, then coming home and squeezing in what I can with the little time and energy I have left.  I think about the Ephesians 5 verses and CT Studd’s quote a lot and want to cry like Brett Favre too.  When I get to Heaven, what I did here on earth is my game film.

It seems the days are getting more and more evil and people need Jesus more.  I’m getting older here and my days are getting shorter.  The psalmist said, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” in Psalm 90:12; Psalm 31:15 “My times are in Your hands,”   and finally Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in His time.  Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

In other words, God has made us be ‘clock checkers.’  He has made us long for eternity and to make our lives count for something.  Maybe that’s why Brett cried when he talked about retiring and why I don’t like bustling around.  I want my life to be about more than just going to work to pay bills and to get enough sleep to go back the next day and to do it all again.

We all hunger for eternity because that is what God created us for.  Dallas Willard said in his book The Divine Conspiracy that that’s why everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame–because we are made to matter for eternity.  God put a hole in our hearts that only He can fill, and He put eternity in our hearts with this time clock in it that says that we want our lives to matter not just now, but for generations to come.

So we don’t want to waste time, to lose time, or to throw it away.  That’s why we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  It is through His guidance and direction that I will know which turn to take, to know what is a waste of time, and to know when it is time to retire.          It is the Holy Spirit who will give me the power to turn away from foolish things and toward the things of God, away from selfish and materialistic pursuits that will amount to nothing in the end, and toward eternal things.

Teach me, O God, to number my days.  Give me a heart of wisdom that I may walk more by faith, less by sight.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I will crave the eternal more than things that won’t last and don’t matter in the end.  Use me even in the busy days.  Give me more than fifteen minutes of fame with You forever.