Colander of Love

Ecclesiastes 11:2 “Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster might come upon the land.”

Observation: In this and surrounding verses, Solomon presses me to be liberal to the poor, generous in meeting the needs of others. Verse 1 tells me to cast my bread upon the waters, encouraging me to be lavish to the point of not overly analyzing a need but simply trusting the waters to carry it wherever God wills. Verse 4 admonishes me not to be paralyzed in giving but to instead press through threats of adverse winds and approaching storm clouds. I cannot anticipate how God might use what I have given, and I have no way of knowing when a return might come. Verse 5 reminds that “. . . (I) do not know the activity of God who makes all things”.

Application: If ever fleshly thinking were counterproductive, verse 2 is its zenith. Give. If seven have need, give to seven. If an eighth comes along, give to him also. Even in the midst of calamity, give and keep giving.

Standard arguments are easily marshaled: “But Lord, I gave generously when times were good. Look at the gathering storm clouds; adverse economic winds sweep the land. Years may be required to recover from the effects, and things may even worsen. Surely this isn’t a good time for me to be giving willy-nilly. You say to cast my bread on swirling currents? Why, I might as well dump dollar bills from a helicopter.” In this I complain like Nabal, “Why should I take my bread and water and the meat I have slaughtered for the shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?” (1 Sam. 25:14)

On and on goes fear’s reasoning. Yet still I must deal with God’s purposes. He says my reward is certain. He knows better than I how paralyzing might be the raging winds and the darkened clouds, yet He tells me to give into them and then promises that it’s for my benefit to do so. He well understands the degree of evil that lies ahead, yet He calls me to generosity lavish with mercy for others in greater need.

Did my investments take a hit? Do I think by hoarding the remainder I will have anything of eternal value in the end? His love can here be likened to a kitchen colander into which He has poured my life. Having been placed over a drain, the insubstantial parts of me swirl inexorably into the black hole beneath. While I mourn loss and become paralyzed with fear, He gently sifts what’s left to finish the job. What I count as loss He considers gain. Finally, when pressed to the point that only what He values remains, then I enter into full usefulness.

Prayer: Father, You know perfectly what size must be the holes in my colander to be finally drained of all I have valued apart from You. Press me, Lord; sift me, ‘til all that remains is You. Bring me to the point where only the substance of Christ is left, fully embraced and empowered by You.

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