Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

A new twist

A new twist

The long balloon is quickly transforming in my brother’s hands.

Squeaking with every bend and turn, it becomes the approximate shape of an animal – a dog, deftly done.

My daughter, a complete novice, completes hers soon after, slowed down by her wincing expectation of a popped balloon at each squeeze. But it’s a decent copy.

Scott is retired. In his newfound time, he has been re-selling used books online. One of those books was a guide to making balloon animals. His curiosity – and the thought of entertaining three grandchildren – drew him to learn the skill.


There’s a childlike joy here that’s easy to delight in. It’s a welcome contrast to the dour tone of my recent readings in Ecclesiastes, where every activity seems to be a meaningless waste of time. It’s easy to picture Solomon slumped in the corner of my living room couch, watching with an arched eyebrow, muttering that tomorrow the menagerie will just be a pile of limp latex. (Imagine Solomon understanding latex!)

But I do him a disservice. I am oversimplifying. The heart of his book is actually quite similar to the point of this blog. He writes:

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? (Ecclesiastes 2:24–25)

Apart from him. That’s the all-essential phrase. Apart from him, every pleasure is fleeting. Every joyful note fades. Apart from him, making balloon animals becomes, like any other activity, a momentary distraction from our inevitable end. The inflatable beasts are an apt analogy for all of life: a bright approximation of reality filled with nothing but air.

Apart from him.

But in Christ, everything has meaning. Everything is a gracious gift – even the air with which we fill our lungs. Our eating, our drinking, our working, our “trifling” hobbies – all our curiosity-fueled pursuits – are part of the dialogue we have with our loving God. And if that pursuit can bless others in the process, how much greater is the joy we share with the Lord.

And that blessing can come in all shapes and sizes. Even ones that look vaguely like a dachshund.

Thank you, Lord, for giving meaning to everything we do. You suffuse our pursuits with delight and our curiosity with purpose. Let nothing we do ever be apart from you.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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