I'm running to catch my train. It's like a sauna in here - Humid, feverish temperatures attract Subway Mosquitoes, and the smells of Doir perfume mixed with the unique smell of the homeless, permeate the air. It's been a long day, but I've got to keep running. Every second is like someone turning up the heat on a stove. I'm stressed. But I am so looking forward to sitting on that train, that last step before I can walk through my front door, and put this day behind me. This is not how I want to live, but somehow, my adrenalin glands have put me on survival mode. Honestly, I know better.
«Savoir vivre» is a loose translation of "the art of living" in French. Even on days like this in Paris, with its heart attack life style, there is still a shadow of savoir vivre. It can be observed as colleagues greet each other, as neighbors discuss with a shopkeeper, or someone bumps into a postal worker on their way out. There is still stress and sleep deprivation from the hours that drive any first world economy, but look closer, and you’ll see how this culture keeps things relational.
A relational outlook is an open door to enjoying life. In the West, we have dismissed most of the human interactions that fill our days and have replaced them with a consumerist attitude. The consumer looks for what he needs and wants. He politely smiles to the merchant but leaves immediately once the transaction is complete. It’s efficient, but it’s not joyful. It seems like there’s something missing. Knowing that our bodies were designed by God for a purpose—Is there a purpose or a theology of enjoyment?
I wasn't convinced about this until the day I saw it in print. That day happened as I was teaching a Bible study on Ecclesiastes. A reoccurring thought came to the surface that brought me to a secret for redeemed humanity: God would have us enjoy life.
Ecclesiastes 2:24, “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.”
I believe enjoyment is possible, even in busy times (maybe not running down the halls of the subway system), but an enjoyment that can accompany productivity and help avoid burn-outs. I wanted to list some thoughts I’ve learned from Ecclesiastes.
Biblical meditation and prayer were never meant as something I must do before leaving the house, like brushing my teeth. Although I am much more presentable afterwards, it’s not the same really. In a time when I was struggling and needed counsel, Pastor Wayne Taylor encouraged me to enjoy God. He was right. He was speaking about intentionally taking time to delight in God’s presence. Though I was in a place of confusion, God never is; and in enjoying Him, even in the car or in public transportation, I receive clarity.
Enjoy my Spouse
Why shouldn’t I enjoy talking to, confiding in, honoring, and listening to the one who I vowed before God to wed until death do us part? The world has made many believe that enjoyment ends at marriage. We’ve made it our goal to disprove that lie! Even in the difficult times, I can and should stop, call her, and see how she’s doing. I can pick up a little ice cream from the store we can enjoy together when the kids are asleep.
Enjoy my Family
We don’t always have time, but should it be an excuse to never find the time? A few minutes here with a child, a story told, a worry confided, a lego space ship built, and my heart is softened. I never regret those moments. Sometimes I do regret taking that call… In the same way, spending time with my kids, calling my parents, and enjoying the family God gave me brings richness to daily living.
Enjoy my Job
A chosen profession is a true blessing, but anything can turn into a drudgery. I am a pastor, and I’ve known too many good people leave the ministry for tragic reasons. Losing sight of what I love to do in pastoring can leave me dry. I know graphic artists who can no longer look at a screen, or doctors who can barely stay focused. They studied long for their job. They love it, but they need a break. Taking time away can help, so can a short term missions trip or a weekend retreat. Sometimes eating lunch away from the office to pray and refocus does wonders. Remembering why you chose this profession or why you are following your life's call is vital in maintaining that passion you once had.
Enjoy my Church
Even if I weren’t the pastor, I’d still go to this church! I love the people. Sure, I’m always being drawn away into this or that drama, but there’s nothing more endearing than letting those who make our church such a great community know that I enjoy them. I think about Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” Going to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ should reflect the joy of my salvation. Sometimes when I’m not enjoying fellowship with them, it’s because I’m not fellowshipping with them. Being present is not the same thing as conversing with people, being transparent and enjoying them. As we draw near to Jesus, let Him cleanse our heart, fill us up, and then connect with someone. I know a lady who prepares a meal every Sunday to share. She asks the Lord to show her who that person will be during the service. Everyone hopes it will be them because she knows how to enjoy their company.
How about you, what are the different ways you can enjoy life a little bit more?