Sometimes, living a simple life feels out of reach.
Maybe it’s living in Los Angeles. Maybe it’s trying to balance a work life, a church life, a family life and still feeling like you have a life.
When I feel my life teetering out of balance, the book of Ecclesiastes is a good place to turn.
Oh sure, it talks a lot about everything being meaningless, so on the surface it seems like a bit of a downer. But this book in the Old Testament gives me great comfort because it simplifies.
“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (2:24)
Isn’t interesting that when you really get down to it, the Bible (or in this case, most likely King Solomon, who God happened to give unparalleled wisdom) gives us this simple formula to enjoy our lives.
So often—at least in America—live in complete contradiction to this. We want to eat as quickly as possible because we need to keep moving. We don’t want to spend a long time on food. We eat on the run or in our cars.
And we’re missing out.
My husband and I have been fortunate enough to travel overseas twice, wandering throughout several countries in Europe. What struck me so clearly there is the difference in what a meal means. In Paris, you can’t even really get coffee to go, unless you’re in a coffee shop that caters to tourists. No one is eating or drinking while walking around.
In America, we make meals revolve around our lives. In Europe, their lives revolve around meals.
When I returned home, I found myself wishing I could find the time to live that way. More precisely, I found myself wishing I would make the time to live that way.
If I did that—if we all did that—maybe we could put our food culture in the United States on a better path. We’ve been so bent on getting our food as quickly as possible so that we can move on with our busy lives, our food has suffered. And as a result, our health and our earth have suffered.
As I said here, as Christians our lives should be attractive to others. As in, something should stand out; be different. If we’re so furiously busy we don’t make time to have meals with people we care about it, we aren’t living a life anyone really wants to live.
Eat drink and be glad. This theme reappears in Ecclesiastes five times over 12 chapters. When themes repeat in the Bible I feel like it’s God using a highlighter.
“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.” (8:15)
First things first: eat.
I think I can do that.