I was intrigued when I noticed a tattoo of a bowling ball knocking down pins on my friend Erin’s ankle. Erin was inspired to get this unique tattoo after listening to Sara Groves’s song, “Setting Up the Pins.” The clever lyrics encourage listeners to find joy in the repetitive, routine tasks that sometimes feel as pointless as manually setting up bowling pins over and over again, only to have someone knock them down.
Laundry. Cooking. Mowing the lawn. Life seems full of tasks that, once completed, have to be done again—and again. This isn’t a new struggle but an old frustration, one wrestled with in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes. The book opens with the writer complaining about the endless cycles of daily human life as futile (1:2–3), even meaningless, because “what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again” (v. 9).
Yet, like my friend, the writer was able to regain a sense of joy and meaning by remembering our ultimate fulfillment comes as we “fear [reverence] God and keep his commandments” (12:13). There’s comfort in knowing that God values even the ordinary, seemingly mundane aspects of life and will reward our faithfulness (v. 14).
What are the “pins” you’re continually setting up? In those times when repetitive tasks begin to feel tiring, may we take a moment to offer each task to God as an offering of love.
How might you do a task differently today knowing God values it? How does knowing this bring meaning to the mundane?
One of the key themes of Ecclesiastes is found in the phrase “under the sun.” It’s found in today’s reading in verses 3 and 9, as well as twenty-seven other times in the book. What does it mean? It refers to that which is done on earth according to the system, values, and mindset of this world. It sets what happens “under the sun” in contrast to that which is rooted in and resonates with the heart of heaven. Since Ecclesiastes is a book of despair, the point is that we don’t find true meaning or purpose until we begin to live according to the heart of our Father in heaven, as opposed to the broken systems of this world.