I have made some acquaintances over my lifetime who seem to take life like a grain of salt. Their "tactic" seems to be to live for today and forget about tomorrow. Then I have others who seem to focus so much on tomorrow, they even forget live today. In looking at these two perspectives on life, I wondered which was really the best. You see, when we have a tendency to just focus on today, with no perception of the future, we often live without limits. When we get so focused on tomorrow, we miss opportunities right in front of us today. Both seem to have their drawbacks, don't they?
The empty-headed treat life as a plaything; the perceptive grasp its meaning and make a go of it. (Proverbs 15:21 The Message)
Don't get me wrong, I am not quoting this passage because I am calling my acquaintances "empty-headed", but I see how they choose to live as just a little "empty". In choosing to live for today, the focus may be on satisfying every whim they have - not "pacing" themselves for the road which still may be ahead of them. Whenever we choose to live for the future, the focus is on the "what ifs" more than on the reality of what is. Earlier, in this same chapter, we find this reminder: An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth; fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies. (vs. 14) Why do we take in "fast food"? Isn't it because we either don't have the time or desire to fix the meal, or maybe we are even too busy to shop? What does this have to do with how we treat life? Simply put - when we are too focused on the wrong stuff, we only have time and energy for the "fast-fix" to life!
Our writer tells us the "perceptive" grasp life's meaning and make a go of it. Empty-headed people don't lack intelligence - they just don't use it to its advantage. They are frivolous in their "take" on life. The "perceptive" seem to have a better hold on life's meaning (at least our writer thinks so). What the perceptive has which the empty-headed may not possess is something called "insight". There is an ability to comprehend the true meaning of something - a discerning power. I think he is aiming at the idea of being able to understand how yesterday provided a pathway into today and how today builds upon yesterday. In turn, they see how today presents us with doors which must be opened or remain closed in our tomorrow. The focus is not on the past, nor is it on the future, but there is an awareness of more than the present.
I wonder how we treat life sometimes. Are we guilty of treating it as a plaything - giving into every whim and fancy, feeding on the fads? Or, do we take life way too seriously - so rigid and tight in our "living" - planning out every step, organizing every detail? Somewhere in between these two extremes is a "happy-medium", don't you think? God doesn't expect us to live so haphazardly, without a care in the world, that we just live as we want. Nor does he expect us to be so "tightly planned" in our days. In the first instance, we will likely miss him because we are so focused on our desires to stop long enough to hear from him about what his desires for us might be. In the second, we are so "rigid" in our plan we see his requests as having to be "worked into" our plan!
In the middle, we find ourselves enjoying what we have been given - job, family, friends, and relationship with God. We know not everything is rotating around us. We take in what we spend some time preparing - not just the fast fix! Things go better when there is some planning, but there must also be the flexibility to allow for the unexpected. We call this being "spontaneous". Did you know the major portion of the definitions related to "spontaneous" do NOT refer to the sudden impulse to do something? In fact, they refer to the inward tendencies to allow something to come to fruition without effort or a whole lot of cultivation. I think this is the life God wants from us - to be open to being "spontaneous". Maybe what we need "more" of in life is "spontaneous" obedience! Just sayin!