I had a conversation with a friend the recently. She was struggling because for a year now, she’s been watching a relationship that means a lot to her slip away, a little at a time.
This Bud’s for you.
I finally understand what the preacher was talking about when he used the phrase, “grasping at the wind.” I had an idea before, but never has it been so completely illustrated as it was while we chatted on the phone the other night. It’s what we do when we cling to relationships with expiration dates. Not only them, but when we trap ourselves in memories of the good old days, playing reruns of events where we knew we were filled with a joy that somehow is yet to be rivaled in the years since. Don’t get me started on what it looks like when we consider the future and all of its possibilities.
Sometimes, it feels like we’re that small child whose balloon was snatched from our sweaty little palm by an unexpected gust of wind. If it doesn’t immediately escape into the heavens, we pursue it, hoping to catch it. After long enough, we don’t know what we’ll do if we do get ahold of it again: wrap our arms around it in a loving embrace, then promise to never let go again, or find the nearest pair of scissors and puncture it for hurting us like it did. If that balloon is a metaphor for a relationship, then I sound like an obsessive maniac.
The balloon has a substance that wind doesn’t. When Solomon compared life things to wind, he was indicating that we must think of life in the light of eternity -I hate that phrase because even though the Bible says I have this forever-ness in my heart, I’m not convinced that I can experience it in the here and now. Maybe I’m just lame. In the context of millions and billions of years and forever with Jesus, any season, relationship, job or experience is nothing. It’s wind, slipping through our fingers because anything divided by infinity is zero- it’s emptiness.
That’s a slippery slope to go down. At the culmination of time, if it all meant nothing at all, then nihilism is the answer, isn’t it? What about art, music, relationships, shuffleboard and gummy bears? The joy we experience in all of these, as temporal as it seems points us toward something good. Occasionally, an artist will speak of their work in terms of catching a glimpse of eternity or heaven or divinity. They were inspired. They saw heaven and made art as an attempt to capture the moment it happened. I’m inclined to agree with that, to a point. I don’t think they saw eternity or paradise, but they experienced a revelation of God Himself and that’s what they tried to portray. Because here’s the deal: Forever and the epitome of party central- the most happening place to ever exist are actually nothing without God. Have you ever gone to a party because you absolutely love the person who invited you, but you don’t get to spend a moment with them while you’re there? It’s pretty much the worst- unless that party has bacon-wrapped hors d’oeuvres.
The very fact that Jesus’ work on the cross reconciles us to each other means that we’ll run into ex girlfriends, boyfriends or former lovers on the other side of the end of time and we’ll say to each other something akin to, “Hey you. Remember when we dated and you broke my heart and I hated your guts for a (long) while afterward? Yeah, I wanted to stab you. Isn’t that funny? Look! There’s Jesus. Get Him!”
The notion that God reconciles us to ourselves, the Earth, each other and Himself means that these things, though we might not immediately see their eternal value, carry some significance. Chasing after the wind is better than doing nothing at all. Even if that wind is actually a tornado that’s an F6 on the Fujita scale and there are cows, houses and pointy things flying around- pointy things that could possibly give you tetanus when they impale your torso. It’s like that 90s movie Twister and you’re that guy who got to kiss Helen Hunt and never acted again afterward. Did he do anything else? Not that I’m aware of. Maybe he’s a stay at home dad. I have to respect that, don’t I?
Maybe pursuing the right things means hunting for God and trying to catch small glimpses of who He is. And when those good things- gummy bears, relationships and those really awesome balloons go sour- or pop, we realize that ultimately, they’re not our goal, but just something along the way that changes us. These are the things which help us to desire that happily ever after with God. We just have to see them for what they are and know when to let go. When I say let go, I mean it, too. You can’t attack people with scissors- they are not balloons. They have rights and lawyers and stuff like that.