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This past month I (Derick) began devotionally meditating on Ecclesiastes. If you know me well, you know it’s difficult for me not to turn every forum into an opportunity for a sermon. So, I’ll spare you and try not to squeeze in everything God is teaching me through this book. I’m only on Chapter 2 after 5 weeks, if that’s any indication.
The overarching theme that keeps resurfacing is perspective. The “preacher” repeatedly echoes his seemingly depressing refrain: “everything is vanity.” It’s all empty, a breathe. Life is just a big let down. I’m deeply thankful for the raw honesty of God’s Word, but I’m also learning to read this book (as we should all of Scripture) through the lens of Jesus and His work.
The “preacher” repeats a clarifying phrase: “under the sun.” Everything- and I do mean everything- when seen through the lens of a merely human, secular, horizontal perspective- is vanity. But the good news is “under the sun” doesn’t completely define our reality as the loved children of Abba. Meaningless doesn’t have the final word.
In a despairing statement rising out of the monotony of everyday life, the author exclaims, “Can anyone say about anything, ‘Look, this new’?”(Ecclesiastes 1:10) If we’re looking through the eyes of “under the sun,” the answer is a haunting “NO!” But there is one “over the sun,” the God of eternity who entered human history in the person of Jesus who stepped into the brokenness, the darkness, and the mundane-ness of everyday life to set it right, to light up the way so we can see and know God, and to color purpose into the black-and-white of even the most trivial of moments.
Our Jesus, the True and Better Preacher, victoriously exclaims in the end-of-days, “Look, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) He alone is the hope in our hopeless questions.
God is graciously and patiently teaching me that the most loving thing He can do for us is to shift our perspective so that we finally begin to see that all the things of this world that we so often cling to in order to find security, comfort, acceptance, power, meaning, significance- will not fully quench our thirsty souls. “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him”, said Augustine. I think he’s right because I think that’s the whole point of Ecclesiastes- and the whole Bible: we were made for Jesus. Everything else just serves as means to enjoy Him and for others to enjoy Him. It’s really freeing to discover that everything is meaningless because it’s only then that we can be shaken out of our delusions to see created things make really terrible gods.
The last several weeks have been a beautiful, hard illustration of this discovery and shift of perspective for the Sherfey family. In some ways we have absolutely loved the change of pace, exploring our new city (Beau really loves the splash pad in our neighborhood park), beginning new relationships, and spending unhurried time with family and friends. In other ways these few weeks have been difficult, as we have struggled to follow and believe Jesus, doubted this process, and at times felt lonely. In all things, we are stumbling forward in faith, constantly praying, “We believe; help our unbelief.”
Here’s some ways you can pray for us
over the next few weeks:
- Our responsibilities at Sojourn Community Church as Church Planting Residents doesn’t officially begin for a few more weeks which makes our pace much slower, allowing margin in our schedules that we’re not accustomed to. Pray we would not waste this gift, but instead truly lean into Jesus and His Word and enjoy family time. Pray for us to learn to find our identity in who God says we are. We’re learning that our worth as children of God really isn’t in what we are doing for Him, but solely in what He has done, is doing, and will do for us. Pray we learn what it means to follow Him and make disciples- not because its our “job,” but because we love Him.
- One of our favorite parts of Louisville so far has been meeting the people of Sojourn. Pray for Cayla and I to keep our hearts open to going deep with folks here, not letting the inevitable “goodbyes” coming in a few months to close up our hearts. Pray God would give us clarity of what it means to be disciple-makers here in this new context. Pray for us as we seek to find a small group to begin to live in community and as we begin to jump into serving with various ministries through the Church here.
- Pray for Cayla as she searches for a part-time job as a nanny. We’re asking God for a family that can be more than income for us, but that we can also bless and encourage as Cay joins in the discipleship of their kids. Pray for the right relationships to open up in God’s timing!
Favor & Boldness
- Pray for us to grow in learning and applying missional rhythms in everyday life. Pray for us to not be selfish with our time and resources, but truly live with open lives and an open table.
- Our neighborhood is extremely diverse. We are the minority in our apartment complex. This is an unexpected gift from God. As most of you know, God has given us a burden for the nations and by His sweet providence He has placed us in one of the most diverse neighborhoods of Louisville- all by “accident.” There are significant language and cultural barriers we’ve hit as we’ve tried to get to know folks here. Pray for wisdom, boldness, and people of peace as we seek to reach out to our neighbors. It’s been much harder than we expected and we’re a bit discouraged, but we know God is shaping us to be better equipped for our calling and ridding some of our illusions of what being on mission looks like.
- I (Derick) began working part-time at a local coffee shop in Louisville called Heine Brothers. Thank you for praying for a job to open up! It’s been fun- and frustrating- to learn the art of coffee making and different to go back to punching-a-timeclock type of job. Pray for me to remember the purpose in everyday small tasks of serving others and doing little things well for His glory. Pray for me as I build relationships with my coworkers and speak Jesus’ story into their stories I am beginning to learn. I am excited to be working in downtown Louisville. Pray that as I spend a lot of time in the city center that I would begin to learn what mission looks like in a city. This has already been a huge learning curve. Although Denver is a much larger and much different cultural context than here in Kentucky, we feel living and working here will be pivotal in helping prepare us to love our new city of Denver well.
Thank you for walking this journey with us,