Pushing Matchbox Cars

“Sow your seed in the morning, and at night let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.” – Ecclesiastes 11:6

That’s really all I want to say. I’ve tried to elaborate on this verse for the last fifteen minutes and keep coming up with hogwash. Everything I type sounds like a lecture I’ve been giving myself, about the energy I’ve drained at work and the ghost of a person I become at home in the evenings. As a colleague of mine said today, why should people at work get the best of me and the people I love get the rest of me? Well, he said it more eloquently than that. And his didn’t rhyme.

The fact is that all of our activities deserve 100% of us, and that seems impossible. Work deserves that much, husband, kids, family, friends… but usually we devote 90% of ourselves to one task, and the remaining people and tasks get whatever is left, that slouched over, heavy-eyed, mumbling self looking for a quiet corner to avoid the rest of society.

Is there a way to balance? To pull your eyes off the computer at home and let them rest on the man you married or the kids you made? Everything in moderation? Yes. In fact, that good teacher from Ecclesiastes has an even more well-known little ditty that goes a little somethin’ like this: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…” and so on. You know it. You are probably singing the song right now. Later on, Solomon has another refrain, “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.” That’s all. Live.

What that means is it is okay to let go. There’s a time and a place for everything, and that does not mean that the time for everything is right now. Sow your seeds in the morning — that’s when we do our work — and at night, let not your hands be idle — that’s when we play. What if the souls you are investing in after work are the very same souls God wants to use to reach a hurting world? Don’t they deserve your attention, too, attention of a different kind? Here’s where the self-lecture comes in that I mentioned earlier.

Mostly I want to say that there is purpose in every minute of the day. There’s always something we could be investing in – our relationships, our work, our prayer life, ourselves even. I do not know what is going to succeed – whether my work at work or my work at home, and maybe the most important task I do today will be pushing Matchbox cars around the living room floor, because that will be a moment my son remembers forever, a small expression of love that embedded itself in his mind. Maybe something else will be more dramatic and important. Ya just don’t know.

So, sow your seeds in the morning, and at night don’t let your hands be idle. You don’t know which is going to succeed, whether this or that, or whether they’ll both turn out awesome. You can only invest in it all. Live fully your life. “Purpose yourself to have a good day.” 😉 And since you can’t do it all on your own, pray pray pray. Let God be the God of endurance, perseverance, and hope.

And stop griping all the time. It’s not that bad. Really. And it isn’t about you, anyway, so grow up. (Mini-self-lecture.)

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

One thought on “Pushing Matchbox Cars

  1. Yes! This speaks to me very loudly. As a counseling student we are learning to “be present” with our clients. This means exactly what you said. I worry that I may not be able to do that because I am often pulled in many different directions on a single task of the day and have nothing left for my Beloved or God(the 90%). I've decided that if I can learn to be present with God he will help me be present with whom ever I need to be present with at any given moment. No I must learn to put that into practice1


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