Saturday, January 3, 2015
I was born in Asia… Japan specifically and spent three and a half of the formative years of my youth in Taiwan. The woman my family employed to care for our home was a Catholic/Taoist. She talked a lot about being in harmony with the way of yin and yang. The thought that somehow the shady side of the emoji was balanced out by the sunny side was intriguing as a child.
But the weight of oppression and angst presses hard on a world shakily balanced on the point of a hatpin. And from my perspective the world appears dangerously out of balance and the shady swirl has taken a great deal more than its fair share of the circle that houses the two paisleys.
But still, the thought of it is intriguing, to contemplate that life, as an adept rope-walker balances expertly against the winds of controversy and catastrophe by disposing and persuading to and fro or side to side to eventually aright inequities and maintain a stance firmly planted upon so narrow a path. It is a lovely concept that you could compensate for ill temperament with kindness or that confusion could be set aright with extraordinary organization. But ice does not compensate for fire, or drought for floods, nor peace for war. Starvation is not balanced by gluttony and ignorance is not equalized by education. They all exist simultaneously. And the dark overtakes the light until the lack of vision hurls an entire world into the abyss.
But there is no balance. Not in this life. Not in this world. More often than not, you put forth maximum effort and get back minimal results. Yet, if you put forth no effort at all, the consequences are usually staggering and affect you in every aspect of your life. Alfalfa sprouts and quinoa do not balance out the accompanying Coke and fries. A day of gorging is not eradicated by a day of fasting. A hug will not remove the pain of a slap and the birth of a child cannot replace the loss of one. Good doesn’t bring evil nor evil bring good. Life is naturally unbalanced.
There is a yearning for stability in our lives. We look ahead and see the darkness creeping forward and we see nothing around us that will bring the necessary light to hinder its approach. Our hearts yearn for answers that will steady the listing reality. There is no occasion to disengage events already set in motion or to undo what has already been done. That which is broken cannot be unbroken. That which is twisted cannot be made straight. We move forward leaving things lost, broken, dead or destroyed, behind and try to stabilize. It leaves fractures and fissures. It is widely held such scars make you stronger, but so often we simply adapt and learn to cope with the fragmented consequences of our existence. Where is the balance?
Solomon studied the inequities of life. He did not conclude that it all balanced out. He sought to use wisdom to discover the meaning of life and he discovered much grief and sorrow. He pursued the procurement of pleasure but discovered instead disappointment and subdued the sting with spirits. He pursued prominence in producing remarkable structures and gardens, amassing staggering treasure and innumerable assets and partaking of every conceivable form of pleasure, withholding not from himself a single desire. And though he saw advantage to wisdom and labor, the end of the matter, to all who live, fools and wise, deprived and prosperous, lethargic and productive, man or beast, they all lived and died. Outside of God, mankind is no different than the beasts of the field. His conclusion: Live and laugh in the moment. Enjoy what you can. God uses struggles to strengthen our character in an eternal realm.
With all this in mind, he reconsidered the gross inequities of life, the brutal oppressions and the lack of comfort for the vast majority of mankind. He saw that listening was better than speaking. Justice and judgment is superior to prominence. Understanding supersedes wealth and wisdom. Happiness comes not by proportion but by choice. Our mortality should press upon our minds to preserve us from corruption, for every man succumbs to death. We should guard our good name our lips and our thoughts and avoid giving or taking offense, perceiving our own deficiencies. Those that fear God above all shall withstand in the end of days, even if the wicked prosper in this life. Choose to be happy and to create happiness in all circumstances as we cannot always know God’s immediate purpose. Fear God. Keep His Commandments. It is the complete man. For God brings all into Judgment.
Balance is used differently by God.
God speaks of being weighed in a balance, whether we look to keep His way or we walk after our own way. His scales are set to weigh what our hearts are turned to, or what our eyes seek after. He balances our actions and our integrity against the weight of seeking after His ways. Balance is not attained by a mix of good and evil but by using good to overcome evil, by understanding that an action will bring a lasting consequence, and knowing that there is an eventual reckoning and a resetting of a man’s character into eternal realms.
Solomon could not see the balance of this life within the time frame of a man’s three score and ten but he did see that ultimately balance would be restored to a world off tilt. It would be reset by choosing another way. And that alone would restore balance.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of it is death. And there is a way that leads to life. We are to choose that way. That way and only that way will balance an off-balance world