“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days” (Ecclesiastes 11:1).
TOMORROW IS UNCERTAIN, BUT THAT SHOULD NOT STOP US FROM DOING WHAT WE CAN DO TODAY. Our judgment of what we should do may not be the best sometimes, and even when our plans are well laid, unforeseen events may alter their outcome. Nevertheless, we must do the best that we know to do today.
Ecclesiastes 11:1 is one of those verses whose main point is fairly obvious in context, but interpreters differ as to the specific illustration or metaphor the writer had in mind. I personally think the image is that of a merchant sending his goods out on a ship, which in ancient times was a very risky thing to do. Risky or not, however, the merchant wouldn’t make any money if he simply did nothing and kept his goods at home. The NEB translates it: “Send your grain across the seas, and in time you will get a return.”
When we are contemplating what is the best course of action to follow, we should certainly exercise prudence. We should be careful and use the very best judgment of which we are capable.
But having been careful in our planning, we then need to exercise energy and industry in carrying out our plan. However hesitant we may have been in making our plan, once the plan is made we need to put our whole heart into its implementation. I well remember my youngest son’s golf coach advising him on a very difficult hole where it was going to be hard to select the right club. Having helped him weigh the pros and cons, he then said, “It’s your decision, Grant. But whichever club you choose, commit to it.” In life, as in golf, we often swing hesitantly, as if we’re not sure we selected the right club — but when we swing hesitantly, not even the right club is going to help us very much.
In the end, our confidence must be in God, and not in our own wisdom or ability. Having been as prudent as we know how to be and then acting as energetically as we can, we must trust that God will take our actions today and bring about a good return tomorrow.
Build a little fence of trust
Fill the space with loving deeds,
And therein stay.
(Mary Frances Butts)