Scripture Reflections @ CEC by Cindy Graff (6/29/20)
“Many books can inform you but only the Bible can transform you.” Anonymous
Scripture & Devotion: Scriptural focus: Ecclesiastes 11:1-6
Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again.
Give portions to seven, yes, to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.
If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth,
Whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, there it will lie.
Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in the mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle,
for you do not know which will succeed; whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.
Casting bread upon the waters
What can I do? What can we do? I have been hearing questions like these quite a bit lately as people ponder their present circumstances, both as individuals and as citizens of a nation with a lot on its mind. The calendar may read “2020”, but 20/20 vision remains a challenge with regard to the current situation in our country. How did we get here? What do we do now? Where are we headed?
What interests me about this passage of scripture is that we don’t need all the answers in order to be an effective witness for God’s goodness and provision, even in times when “disaster may come upon the land.” In these verses, Solomon uses nature as a metaphor for things we cannot control; pouring rain, trees crashing to earth unexpectedly, and wind with a “path” like a tornado all conspire to alter the landscape. (In our case, we might just as well add coronavirus and civil unrest to the list.) The threat of such calamity sometimes causes us to become frozen with fear or confusion. When that happens, it is easy to dwell upon what is difficult or what makes us feel powerless or useless. After we give in to the temptation of believing that there is “nothing we can do”, it is but a small step from there to “doing nothing”.
In this passage, Solomon reminds us that any good or compassionate action we may take, no matter how seemingly insignificant, will have positive consequences. Being able to predict a result should not matter; after all, who among us understands everything about how God works in the world? A footnote in my Life Application Bible puts it this way: “Waiting for perfect conditions will mean inactivity. This practical insight is especially applicable to our spiritual life. If we wait for the perfect time and place for our personal Bible reading, we will never begin... If we wait for the perfect ministry, we will never serve. Take steps now to grow spiritually. Don’t wait for conditions that may never exist.”
This passage in Ecclesiastes encourages us to focus on what we can do rather than to be intimidated by uncertain circumstances. If we can give even a little time or money or resources, make a phone call or send a card to someone we know is sorrowing or struggling, offer to walk a dog or weed a garden or pray, each little action has the potential to enrich someone’s life. I think of those who have volunteered to read “Bedtime” stories or Psalms from the Bible to be shared on our church email or website, those who still come faithfully each week to ensure that our “Let’s Eat” ministry is still “serving our community with no strings attached” during this crisis time, those who pastor and the families who support them at home, those who check on their neighbors or take a walk just to wave at someone through the window. Every little action seems to mean a great deal more these days. So let’s cast our bread upon the waters without being concerned about knowing the result. God himself has assured us that endeavoring to bless the lives of others blesses us, as well.
Make us vessels of Your peace so that we bless those around us today.