Stones Hill Community Church
A Season for Everything
The writer of Ecclesiastes undertook a hugely ambitious life experiment and he made himself the guinea pig, the lab rat. King Solomon had the time, money, and power to pretty much pursue any avenue of life he thought would bring pleasure or satisfaction. Solomon decided to conduct a massive experiment in human happiness and meaning. He became his own test subject, his own lab rat. “I know there is a God, but I’m going to live as if there isn’t and see what that’s like.” He became this mad scientist in search of serum, an antidote to fix him. But nothing was ever enough. He lost sight of the Giver of the Gifts. Have you lost sight of what's important? The theme of the book is a virtual summary of the biblical worldview: life lived by purely earthly and human standards is futile, but the God-centered life is an antidote. Solomon tells us what he wants us to remember when life gets confusing, mysterious, unfair or as black as night - keep your trust in Creator God’s plan. Life in the world has significance only when man remembers his Creator (12:1). Welcome to "A Season for Everything" - Finding Meaning in the Book of Ecclesiastes!
Locations & Times
  • Ligonier, IN
    151 W Stones Hill Rd, Ligonier, IN 46767, USA
    Saturday 6:00 PM
We welcome you to Stone's Hill today!

A typical Stone's Hill service has:

* music (so feel free to sing out);

* some announcements (things that are upcoming that you can be a part of);

* a message out of the Bible (God speaks to us through his Word);

* and an opportunity for you to respond to the message (either immediately in the case of a decision that needs to be made OR in the future as you live out the message in your daily life.)

So relax and enjoy your morning! We're so glad you are here!
Message Text: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
Am I, a human being, made to live and last forever? God made us as hybrids. You are a body/spirit union. That is how God has made you. Your body belongs to the earth— dust you are and to dust you will return. Your body will cease to live some day and eventually decay. But your spirit goes on forever.
So, currently, we are hybrids in that we are physical and temporal but we have an inner longing for eternity. God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We are born with the longing for another world—a life with God that is beyond the reach of mortal time. This world alone, as wonderful as it is, can never satisfy by itself. You know, I had an entire four-point sermon put together for today, but somehow, I sense that I’m supposed to talk to you about this internal longing and life’s disappointments.
Remember last week, and all this stuff with a time for this and time for that in the early part of Ecclesiastes 3. But now he says there’s something in me that’s more than time. We can never be fully at home in this life because, although we are mortal, we yearn for immortality. We all have an “eternity shaped heartache.”
The Eternity-Shaped Heartache
I feel this inward yearning and longing. It tugs at me from time-to-time. Don’t misunderstand. I love life. But there’s something in me that wants to transcend the passage of time, that wants to connect with my family that I’ve lost to death, something in me that longs for everyone to finally have the life they’ve always wanted. Many authors have written about this, but most recently Susan Cain calls it a “bittersweet” longing for something more; a longing for something we cannot name, and it’s sometimes mixed with a deep sense of grief. Cain says the “bittersweet” is “an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy at the beauty of the world (xxiii).” She says its important to acknowledge this longing and even turn it into some expression like music or art or a deep gratitude for life - because when we do that it makes us whole. When we participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world we meet Jesus in there.
I like to listen to piano music sometimes when I study. Songs with words are too distracting. But there’s something soothing about the piano. There’s a pianist I like to hear, Kevin Kern, born legally blind. He plays these emotionally moving songs and it evokes the longing. My wife overheard one of them a while back and she said that song makes me want to cry. Kern seems to long for a world with sight and beauty and it comes out in how and what he plays. Have you ever experienced a moment like that? One that moved you to such overwhelming emotion –that it could not be explained merely in terms of what you were witnessing or hearing?
I feel longing sometimes when I look at an old photograph. Something about the passing of time, or what someone would say to their 18-year-old or younger self, or I wonder if life turned out the way they would have liked, or if, I don’t know them, if they’re race is already over in this life.
Roy Clarke sings that song “Yesterday When I Was Young”. “I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day, and only now I see how the years ran away… I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out. I never stopped to think what life is all about…” I feel it when I see a certain scene in a movie or read a certain kind of story in a book. I feel it when I read a story that makes you ache for the story to be true. I feel it when I read a few lines of poetry that strikes a chord.
One author calls these longings and yearning “a moment of transcendence” (Davis, Seeing Unseen God, 78). These are moments when we catch a glimpse of what C. S. Lewis also calls “the longing.” We want to get to the place where all the beauty comes from, to be part of it. It’s an “eternity shaped heartache.” There’s this internal sense that we are not just a creature of time. We yearn to be a part of eternity. Life is more than pleasure, work, wisdom, alliances and pursuits. We have this sense of a bigger truth, a higher plan. This inkling is from God. Yancey calls this “rumours of another world.” That’s why we feel like we’re exiles from someplace glorious. We are! And Genesis tells that story. And certain things evoke it.
The Conundrum
This yearning presents a kind of conundrum because we live in bodies that won’t last more than 80-90 years. What we often do is try to fill the God-shaped vacuum inside of us, this gap of eternity, with temporal things. We humans paint to see if what was lost was in the picture. We composed to hear if what was lost was in the music. We sculpted to find if what was lost was in the stone. We wrote to discover if what was lost was in the story. So through art and music and film and story and nature and religion, we have searched for what was missing from our lives. So we reach for God in many ways, through our sculpture and our scriptures, through our pictures and our prayers, through our writing and our worship, our temples and our shrines, our senses and our relationships.
One writer observes that there is a theme of emptiness that runs through the verses of our lives (McGrath). What if our sense of emptiness is like a signpost, pointing us in a certain direction? What if all the joys of life were not seen as things you have to capture now before they fade away? What if they were all hints of a joy which we have yet to experience, something which awaits us? “The joy we know on earth is like an anticipation of something greater. It would be like someone drawing aside a curtain, and allowing us a glimpse into the most wonderful of worlds. We long to enter in and explore it. Yet before we have had time to begin to take in its wonder, the curtain is pulled back again, and we lose it from sight (McGrath, 29).”
Question: What will I do with this inward longing for eternity?
Jared Wilson says we do one of four things with the longing, the eternity-shaped heartache (Gospel Deeps, 150-151).
We drug it. We temporarily satisfy the longing, but it’s an endless cycle because drugs or any temporary fix wears off. From meth to porn, shopping to Facebook – all temporary fixes. Maybe you feel the longing, but you’re looking in the wrong place to assuage it. The one who reaches for another drink until the day is obliterated is longing for more than just an alcohol-induced coma.
We deny it. “I’m not missing anything. I don’t have this inconsolable longing.” “Nothing moves me to feel the ache for the eternal. There’s no longing in the songs I love to listen to, or in the books I love to read, or movies I watch.” You can be lost and not know it – so layered down with self-protective strategies and coping mechanisms. Your sense of validation and security comes from somebody else. And so you suffocate them with your needs. And finally, when they’ve had enough, you rage because they won’t meet your needs like you think they should.
We deify it. Not only do we feel the longing, but the longing itself becomes more interesting than the longed-for. So we just want a good cry without God. Or we want a stand-in besides God – like a boyfriend or girlfriend or lover. Feeling cutoff from some needed love, we find another human exile that has no idea what they’re doing either. All the longing and cravings point us to something or Someone beyond, something greater. Get to the Deity behind it all. Don’t deify the longing.
We delight in it. We feel the ache of being home with the Father, being in the garden with the God-Man, doing what we were made to do and getting life right. The best things often happens when we live within the tension of desire and don’t always rush to satiate it (Trowbridge, Twenty-Two, 129). Christianity doesn’t seek to kill the longing within us; rather it seeks the healing of desire and longing in Christ alone (Eldredge, Journey of Desire, 46).
No matter how great your pleasure, there comes a time when you ask “Is this all there is?” The culture is telling you a big fat lie! We have to constantly satiate or satisfy our longing in some way. But Solomon teaches us that we must learn to live with an ache that can’t be filled by the world, but that must be felt and assuaged by God. Those who always rush for some secondary pleasure never enjoy the painful brilliance of the process – of eventually arriving to that sought-after place after a journey of struggle. You can’t imitate that. You have to live it.
Where is your life ultimately headed? Eternity is your chief concern. Where will you spend eternity? The Bible uses various pictures to teach us about the body and the spirit, “Remember him; before the silver cord is severed” (Ecclesiastes 12:6). Solomon says, “It is as if there is a silver cord that ties your spirit to your body. Death is the cutting of that silver cord. When this happens, your spirit and your body are separated for a time.” When your body no longer has the life of your spirit, it is like a puppet with no hand inside (Colin Smith)."
Jesus just before dying on the cross does not say, “Father, into your hands I commit my body.” He says, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” When a person dies various things may happen to the body—it might be buried or lost at sea. It may be horribly disfigured in an accident or there may be no body to be found. Whatever happens to the body, it is to be honored. But the focus of attention in the Scriptures is not on the body, but on the spirit, because while you have a body, your body is not your permanent container for your spirit. Your body will die, but your spirit will go on. Paul says, “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.” (Galatians 2:20). Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, so looking after your body is important, but caring for your spirit matters even more.
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.(Luke 23:46) Here’s our Lord Jesus Christ at the moment of death, in an act of faith that’s borne out of a life lived for the Father’s glory.
I want to live in such a way that when I die, I have a knowledge of the Father that enables me to say, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Healing the eternity-shaped heartache.

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