“Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life.” – Thomas Kinkade
“Balance is a feeling derived from being whole and complete; it’s a sense of harmony.” – Joshua Osenga, 12 years a Cubicle Slave
“He has made everything appropriate in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB
We all know how our life feels in proper balance. As Joshua Osenga defined it, we had a sense of harmony. The tone of our day was neither sharp nor flat. The rhythms of our actions were smooth. As Thomas Kincade described it, there was a sense of peace. There may be things on the “to do list” but we are at peace with the undone.
As superb as life feels when it is in balance. Our experience can shift from the smoothness of a perfectly spinning gyroscope to one tumbling and careening without any sense of guidance. We are left to ponder, “What was the difference?” “Hasn’t someone published a book, study, or talk ‘6 manageable steps I can follow to assure life will stay in balance’?”
I do not believe the keys to a balanced life may be distilled to elementary steps enumerated on a punch list for success. However, Ecclesiastes 3 furnishes a glimpse of the principle that may serve as our guiding star leading our journey toward a balanced life. Whenever mankind sets out without a guiding star, we are reduced to little more than responding to elements much like a pinball ricocheting off bumpers and obstacles in its path.
The guiding star is the greatness, majesty, and sovereignty of God. “Man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” “I know that everything God does will remain forever.” ”God will judge both the righteous man and the wicked man.”
If we are focus upon ourselves and our actions, the elements of life beyond our control overpower us. We are left frustrated due to our inabilities. On the other hand, as we focus upon God, we recognize these overpowering elements are also the handiwork of His creation. We are on a journey through life with and toward God. He will bring us to the point of joy in our activities (Ecclesiastes 3:22).
We also have warnings of hazards that will certainly destroy any balance we may enjoy in life. (Ecclesiastes 3:2-8). Here are but a few:
- Work – (A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted) – Mankind is created in the image of God to be industrious and a creator. Work is a good thing…in balance. However, as a confessed workaholic, it can and will control us if we allow it. Work will destroy balance if it becomes our obsession.
- Saving – (A time to keep and a time to throw away) – Saving a portion of what we have for the future is wise. Genesis 41 records Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams and his advice of saving 20% each year’s harvest for lean years to come. However, if the action we should take becomes the focus of life, balance is destroyed.
- Happiness – (A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance) – Happiness and joy are not synonymous! Times of success should be celebrated. Moments of happiness and fun are to be remembered. But focusing upon fun, success, and happiness ruins the balance of life and may cause us to be unable to handle the inevitable times of mourning that come to all.
- News, social media, and current events – (A time to be silent and a time to speak) – I am certain that the writer of Ecclesiastes had no thought of Facebook or 24/7 broadcast news channels, but there is an application here to maintaining balance. Social media and the daily news have become obsessions to many in the USA, and, as such, they can destroy any semblance of balance. They may all be enjoyed and play a role in our lives being informed, but Satan can also use them to destroy!
Balance is an elusive element for anyone. So it is in every culture around the world. No culture is naturally inclined to balance above all others. These words from Ecclesiastes universally apply to all ages, “I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God.” Understanding that all of life comes from God and we are on this journey with him guides us to balance.