Good things are closer than you realize
Published 2:32 pm Friday, September 6, 2019
Even though the heat was intense and insects abundant, our little summer garden turned out pretty good. We harvested lots of potatoes and onions, put corn and peas in the freezer, and canned some beautiful tomatoes. We also consumed lots of fresh cucumbers.
My wife kept a careful eye on the cucumbers and checked the vines almost every day during their peak production time. Eventually they gave out and I cut the vines down. We missed having them to enjoy with our meals, but the place where they grew looked much better after I cleaned away the weeds. A few weeks after the cucumber vines were gone I noticed that some of the seeds from the previous crop had come up. There is nothing unusual about that; one cucumber contains dozens of seeds, so to see a few plants come up on their own is always common. But this time I decided to leave them there just to see what would happen. After a while they started to grow, then eventually the runners extended and a few tiny cucumbers started to appear. Gale was pretty excited that we might have a fall crop of the green delights to enjoy (we live simple lives so we get excited about some things that others might not think are so great). But her excitement started to turn into disappointment after a couple of weeks as the little cucumbers showed limited progress.
We went outside this afternoon after I got home from work and took a short walk to see how things are looking. Before we came in, she dropped by the cucumber vines to see if there was any hope but little encouragement was noted. Just before walking away, I looked under the big leaves and there it was—a mature cucumber, just right for supper tonight! We had almost walked away before that discovery. Both of us were glad we didn’t
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What a reminder that there are sometimes good things much closer than we realize if we will only take time to look. It is so easy to get engrossed with what we do not have or focused on negative things that we miss out on what God has made available within our reach.
In the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible, the writer gives much detail about his searching for meaning in life, but coming up empty. He had plenty of what we would call good things—wealth, pleasure, and recognition—yet he referred to it all as meaningless: “I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:12-14, New International Version).
If his writing ended there, it would be a pitiful commentary on life, but it did not.
As the writer talks about life and the search for meaning, he found so much of it as chasing after the wind—an unwinnable pursuit. However, when he concludes the search, he arrives at a powerful truth: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).
He found that the good in life—knowing God and serving Him—was closer than he first realized. That is what brings meaning to life. Sometimes we do a lot of searching but fail to find what God wants us to know and have. We miss the good thing—that of experiencing His love and presence in our lives—because we get our attention on the wrong things. Good things are close by, we just have to look in the right direction.