The pessimistic book I have in mind is the book of Ecclesiastes. That’s at least one perspective on that book of thoughts from someone coming towards the end of their life’s journey. Having a bit of a pessimistic bent myself (whether by temperament or experience, I’m not sure), I like to think of it as a book of realism. Pessimists prefer that label. So, towards the end of the book, I found a few lines in chapter 11 helpful in some very practical ways:
“Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” (Eccl 11:2) Solomon recommends diversification. This was God’s idea before modern investment firms recommended this strategy. It is God’s idea to protect ourselves against unexpected financial disasters by investing our resources, our time, our energies, our creativity in more than just one place. Diversification is not just a financial strategy but a life strategy. God invites us to engage fruitfully and creatively in more than one venture.
“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” (Eccl 11:4) Daydreaming or getting lost in my thoughts will not plant or harvest anything. I tend to be person who so enjoys thinking about things that I can fail to reach the point of planting, watering or harvesting. Because the nature of my ministry is not unlike those who would be called “self-employed,” I’ve found it helpful to think in terms of taking at least one action each work day that could be called “financial farming.” Like a seed, what is a new little exploration, phone call, connection that I could plant? Or, what seed that I’ve already planted might I water through a note, a coffee, a lunch, some “next step” in the relationship? Or, are there some opportunities for harvest where planting and watering have produced ripe fruit? I like thinking about these things through an organic metaphor.
“Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” (Eccl 11:6) This is sort of the follow-up to diversification. I don’t know which of my efforts will prove fruitful, any or all. So it makes sense to plant and work at things that have potential to be fruitful. I’m sometimes good at starting things, but not persevering in the continuing work that would lead to fruit. We never know whether our success will be limited to one effort or if all of our efforts will be productive.
- How diversified would you say your investment of life is these days?
- Where do you sense God’s invitation to plant? To water? To harvest?
- Where have you been tempted to discouragement or to give up your efforts? How might the Father’s voice of eternal encouragement come alongside you to stir you and move you?