Meaningful

Published December 10, 2014 by

Bealeton Baptist Church Blog Post  Ever since I was growing up on the South Shore of Long Island, I had an affinity with older people. My Grandpa Felix’s workshop was a place of comfort. Even today, when I smell an old stogie or Ben Gay ointment, I can’t help thinking back to talks with my grandfather. My Grandma Gertrude lived with us for a while. My Uncle Bud, who made it into Germany during World War II, drove a metro bus after the war and by consistently saving ended up a very wealthy man, was a treasure trove of information. Here at Bealeton, we are gifted with similar men of grey hair and good wisdom.

And maybe because of that affinity I find the book of Ecclesiastes speaking to me. Ecclesiastes has such a different tone then the other books written by Solomon. Song of Solomon is starry eyed as the young King contemplates his bride. Proverbs is spoken by a middle-aged King, confidence and sure, as he passes on great words for living to the next generation. Ecclesiastes, however, strikes me as the remarks of a more pensive King. He is much more self-aware. As he looks back on the totality of his life, one marked by great highs and great lows, he speaks more as the wise grandfather than the oracle of wisdom.

Maybe it is because of my age, or maybe it is because of that affinity, that the message seems so clear.

The quest for knowledge is meaningless. I love to learn! It is not unusual for me to be reading three books at a time. I love information. I want my children to go to college. I think it is important that they know the speed of sound; that we live in a democracy; and that “I” definitely comes before “e”, except after “C.” But what is knowledge without context?

The quest for pleasure and good times is meaningless. Solomon had 700 wives and 300 mistresses. He knew how to party with singers and harems! Yet, he said pleasure and good times are fleeting. I am saddened when I run across someone who is always seeking the next rush, a new relationship or the next happy hour. No matter what good they have around them, it is not enjoyed because they are looking for the next pleasure. Researchers tell us that is what the pornographic industry feeds off of……better and more eye candy. Unfortunately, all the other pleasure industries do the same. Pleasure without context is transient.

The quest for power and riches is meaningless. I do only 3-4 wedding ceremonies a year. We spend 6 weeks with couples preparing for marriage. One of the questions we get to during premarital counselling is: how do you define success? It is not unusual for the answer to have some type of monetary dimension attached to it. But is that success? How many people get to the end of broken homes and broken marriages to find that they would turn in their great wealth for a couple of good friends or a relationship with their kids? A wise boss years ago told me, after I pulled “an all-nighter” on a work project, that it wasn’t going to be Mother Air Force looking down on me when I am laid out with a powder face. It’s going to be my wife and kids. So don’t be a knucklehead. He put success in context.

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them.”” That’s Ecclesiastes 12:1. Can you here what Old King Solomon is saying? He is saying, “Take it from one who knows. A life of education, a life of pleasure, a life of power, a life of riches are meaningless without context. Solomon is telling us that no matter what the World throws your way, God provides the context. He is what everything else in the whirlpool swirls around. Remember Him early in life. Within that context is found true wisdom, pleasure and power. Without it life is pretty meaningless.

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