Has this ever happened to you? You need to make a run to Costco for one, maybe two items. You don’t need much. Just a chicken and maybe some samples. As you walk in you even debate for a second whether or not you even need a cart, but you decide to get one just because who wants to carry a hot chicken. Your cart starts out like this.
As you wander you notice some old favorites “I haven’t had orange chicken in a while. ThatGinger beer looks pretty good.” Pretty soon your cart looks like this.
That would be fine but you still have about 100 yards between you and the checkout stand. By the time you get there your cart looks like this.
We go in for milk and we walk out with a hundred Diet cokes, thirty boxes of mac and cheese and a bounce house. I just want you to know, that’s okay. It’s probably not good for your finances if that happens to you ever week, but it’s okay for your shopping cart to look like this.
However, it’s not okay for your life to look like this. Conceptually we have a few priorities in life that really matter. Our family matters. Our career matters. Having a relationship with God matters. However, as we go through life we start adding. We start tasting the samples. Volunteer at school? Sure I’ve got time for that. Overtime? I’ve got time for that. Home improvement project? I can pull that off. Competitive soccer? Sure. We keep adding and adding and adding and pretty soon our cart is overflowing.
Buried under all these events and activities are your real priorities.
The book of Ecclesiastes gets us two options of how to live our lives back to back. The busy option sounds like this.
There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?” This too is meaningless— a miserable business! Ecclesiastes 4:8
The second option sounds like this.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Why do you think God had those two sets of verses run back to back? Why did he paint a picture of someone who’s running and striving and acquiring followed by this call to relationship? When we are running and striving and building it ourselves, what do we lose track of? People. And not just people, important people. Wives, husbands, sons, daughters, friends. Do you know where we end up when our life is spent comparing and grabbing for more and building it ourself? We are burdened. We are troubled. We are lonely. Our life is meaningless. Chasing after the wind. Sure your shopping cart is full, but you’re anxious.
Maybe it’s time to evaluate what we have in our shopping cart.