Ecclesiastes isn't often on my reading list and that's not a purposeful avoidance by any means, it just isn't where my Bible opens most days, weeks or even months.
But a couple of times in the past few days it did, and both those times it fell open to same page in Ecclesiastes. The verse that on those two occasions caused me to stop, ponder and sigh, was...
"and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor - it is the gift of God"
You may think me odd, and to be sure in many ways my husband would agree, but both days my reading of this verse brought forth in my mind a picture of a large freshly baked apple pie.
The pie had one piece missing and I felt within myself a deep satisfaction, as though I were the one who had baked the pie and eaten that delicious slice.
Now that's not something which would happen in my kitchen.
I bake for the family and it is from my love of serving them that when a pie such as this is placed on the table they are always served first.
Generous slices are cut and slipped into aged dessert bowls with scoops of ice cream on top for all to enjoy, and only after everyone is seen to do I attend to my own piece - and I see nothing wrong with that.
But I sensed with this Scripture that God was wanting to make a point with me.
My life runs on a track of serving, working, giving, working more, serving more, giving more...all with good intent, loving intent, giving intent. I grew up watching my Nana do this and her example is the only one I knew to follow so it was natural that her rhythm of life would become mine, and the rhythm of my life would have an effect on my daughters years later.
What I failed to realise until now was the lack of Ecclesiastes 3:13 in Nana's life, in my life.
That 'vision' I had this week of the fresh baked apple pie with a slice eaten filled me with delight, a wonderful sense of satisfaction in work well done.
It was as though I'd spent the morning picking apples, peeling, chopping, stewing them with a little sugar and cinnamon for the pie filling. Then I would have rubbed butter and sugar into flour and deftly made pastry dough, rolled it out and blind baked the pie case before filling it with the cooled apples. Another roll of dough and perhaps a lattice criss-cross of half inch strips like Nana would do across the top, a few leaves cut from the pastry scraps pressed onto the centre, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and into the oven to bake.
A tidy of the kitchen bench, wash the bowls, sweep the floor, hang up my apron and 'ping' goes the kitchen timer - my pie would be ready!
"and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor..."
I don't wait for the family dinner.
I brew the kettle, choose my favourite tea cup and pretty cake plate and I cut into that apple pie.
One lovely thick slice, the fruit of my labor to enjoy.
No guilt. No rushing to do other things. Not today.
I savour every delicious morsel because I'm relaxed, just letting myself delight in the reaping of my 'harvest'.
There's plenty of pie left for everyone else but right now it's okay to serve myself and thank God because...
"...eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor - it is the gift of God"
Don't forget yourself.
Don't forget to enjoy life, to enjoy the fruit of your labor, to enjoy the gifts of God.
Working, serving and giving are very important and we must continue doing those things, especially from the heart with generous and loving motivation - but we must also laugh, breathe, embrace each day, be kind to ourselves, learn to say no sometimes, and enjoy the fruit of our labors.
It's not just about apple pie, though sometimes it may well be. It's about stopping to enjoy what you've put effort into - whether that be a relationship, a project, an event, a harvest, anything that required something from you.
There's something else I should mention.
Teach this to your children if like me your example has been one of too much work and not enough enjoying the fruits.
I see two of my girls especially, who diligently care for their families and expect nothing in return because they love being wives and mothers, they delight in being homemakers, and find ways to work from home.
I see them weary, burnt out, laughing a little less and in need of a harvest.
I see a bit of me in them already and think it's time to update the family rhythm.
It's time they knew about Ecclesiastes 3:13 too, so they can teach their daughters.
Be blessed dear child of God, you are worth more than you know.