So it has been a long time since I last posted something, but I’m back now and am going to be posting once a week on Tuesdays. As you can probably imagine (from my lack of posting) that this month has been really hectic. And with all that was going on I found myself in a spiritual dry spell. If you have ever been on the Christian path, I’m sure you have experienced something like this before, God feels far off, reading the Bible becomes a chore, and prayer just doesn’t happen. Now over the years I have experienced several of these “spiritual dry spells” and have learned (after many attempts) that trying to force myself out of it, by making myself read the Bible or forcing myself to pray, is next to pointless. So I asked God to spark the fire and he sent me the book of Ecclesiastes.
If you know anything about the book and have any experience being guided by God, you might find the answer both typical and amusing. For those who don’t know, Ecclesiastes isn’t known to be the most encouraging book in the world. For instance, the book starts like this:
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
And it just gets worse from there. Even though the book is not the most uplifting piece of literature out there, as I read it I found myself not only encouraged, but existed and energized to get back into my spiritual life.
Before I tell you why the book was so encouraging to me, we need to dive into the book a little. So let’s do that.
In the book, the writer is exploring life and in every literal sense of the saying, “he does it all”. He parties, he builds, he studies all there is to know about the world, and he carefully observes the activities of the people who live on earth. After the writer talks about what he sees and experiences. He comes to the conclusion that ultimately everything we do and strive for is meaningless, pointless, and of no real value.
“Trying to catch the wind”
Now, like a lot of Jewish writing, the author doesn’t explain his reasons in a nice neat sentence or two. Instead, he has woven them, masterfully, throughout the whole book. From what I can tell the writer points out 3 things in our world which make everything pointless. They are as following, time, death, and disorder.
Death, because it doesn’t matter how good or bad, rich or poor, you are, it will take you. Time, because no matter how great something or someone is, the march of time will leave their mark or memory behind until they are completely forgotten. The last thing that he observes is the disorder of the world, bad things happen to both good and bad people. Likewise, good things happen to good and bad people. So just because you do the right thing, doesn’t mean life will be just or fair and there doesn’t seem to be any real reason why.
After observing these, facts of life, the writer concludes that life is meaningless and pointless. If your not sure how he came to this conclusion, think about it like this.
In order for something to have a point or meaning, it needs to have lasting value. The longer it lasts, and has a positive function, the more meaningful it is. For instance, which is more meaningful, a car that lasts a week and then dies, or a car that lasts 20 years? The author’s point is that because nothing in our lives lasts for very long (when compared to the universe we live in and time as a whole), nothing we can have or do realy has any real value. This is an observation that has been made by people from almost every world view, and is what has inspired sayings like, “eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die”.
Deep down, the reality of our own mortality also terrifies us. Take a look at what the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote regarding life’s insignificance.
“When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in an eternity before and after, the little space I fill engulfed in the infinite immensity of spaces whereof I know nothing, and which know nothing of me, I am terrified. The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me.”
You might be asking yourself, why I was so encouraged by this depressing book? Well, it’s because of the end, the final conclusion, found in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14,
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
The author makes the observation that the only thing in our world which has lasting value, is being in a relationship with God. Why? Well, because a relationship with God is the only thing that can defy the 3 realities, which make the world meaningless. God is eternal, so a relationship with him quite literally can withstand “the test of time”. He defeated death at the cross, making eternity a possibility for us. He will also, one day, give the good and the bad their just reward, bringing justice and order, to our present disorder and injustices. In other words, being in a relationship with God is a positive thing that will never end making it literally the only thing that can give your life eternal meaning.
I believe that this is one reason why Jesus said this in John 10:10,
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
I love the book of Ecclesiastes because it doesn’t try to hide the fact that the physical things we strive after every day, comfort, money, fame, and pride, are at their core, utterly pointless. It’s all an attempt to catch the wind. Once you have done it, what then?
It doesn’t try to make you feel better about it, the author has instead decided to point at eternity, and says, if you want real meaning, get to know him!
A relationship with God… Is more than words can describe. Often I forget how valuable it is, as I become caught up in everyday life. Which I’m sure, is an experience that many of you can relate to.
If you are a Christian, quite literally, you are touching eternity, don’t take it for granted. If you aren’t a Christian, I would suggest that you consider honestly search out God, as he is seen in Christianity, and not because of what could possibly happen after you die. But for the here and now. If the Judeo-Christian God is not real, you will have lost nothing. Every other religion says that man is separated from God until death, so nothing really changes for you in this life. But if the Judeo-Christian God is real, then you have, quite literally, missed the only truly meaningful thing in life and the only one who can give life meaning.