Thursday, July 10, 2008

Striving After The Wind

In his great work on the human condition, Solomon points us to the finer nuances of life on earth. He titled it, Ecclesiastes, or the Teacher. The title actually comes from the first word in the Hebrew, which means Teacher or Preacher. If I wrote the book, I would have titled it something like, oh, let’s see… “Life Sucks.” No, wait, How about: “The Problem of Life With God.”
Solomon extols the pursuit of mankind’s days. Men typically spend their time on earth pursuing three things; Money, Happiness, and Education. Solomon tried materialism. This is the folly of youth. How much can I get, and how does it stack up with what everyone else has? It did not satisfy his soul. In fact, it left him wanting. He had great possessions, but he was empty on the inside. His stuff was just that…stuff. That new boat, the paint is fading. That new BMW, the doors are dinged. That new 56” big screen with the 1080I wide angle and surround sound DVD is not even 6 months old, and there is already a 60” 1080p and Blue Ray with digital Dolby. All of our new material stuff gets old and dusty and not-so-new anymore real quick! The satisfaction is fleeting.
So he tried the folly of the middle aged—hedonism. He pursued happiness with a vengeance. Of course that leaves you wondering the next day, “what was I thinking!” The happy drunk is the cranky hung-over guy waiting to happen. There were other, more tangible consequences as well, like 600 wives and 1,000 concubines. Holy alimony, Batman! Can you imagine 1,600 mother-in-laws!? Eeek. So, hedonism was no answer either. In the end, pleasure is just as fleeting as stuff. It is like cotton candy for the soul, it tastes so sweet and wonderful, but just as you start to enjoy it, it melts away before you can sink your teeth in.
So he tries the folly of the old—education. “I have to be able to get satisfaction somewhere!” Solomon cries out to us. “Maybe I can find it in wisdom.” So he pursues learning with the same vigor that he collected chariots and divorce lawyers. At the end of the day, the wisest man who ever lived said, “After I became so educated, I realized a very poignant fact…What happens to the fool will happen to me also.” (That’s the King Steve Version of Ecc 2:15-16) In other words, in the end, everybody dies, so everybody looses. It does not matter how much stuff you have, how much fun you had, or how wise you are, or how broke, dull, and dumb you are, when you are dead, they throw dirt on top of you.
Everything, Solomon saw, was like chasing after the wind. Just when you though you about had it, it slips through your fingers…like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our vanity! Then Solomon realized that what gives satisfaction in this life is not stuff, not fun, not even wisdom, but having God on your side. And, more importantly, being on His.
I have nice things. I have fun. I am one smart cookie! But when I think about my life, I am so glad that I can say with Job, “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in rock forever! For I know that my Redeemer lives, and on the last day He will stand upon the Earth. And after my skin has thus been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see my God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold Him, and not those of another. My heart faints with in me!” Job 19:23-27 (ESV) At the end of the day, it is not the one with the most toys who wins. It is the one who has Jesus!



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