“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
And so, begins the book of Ecclesiastes, believed to be written by the great King Solomon. A fabulously wealthy King of Israel famed to be wise beyond measure. A king that pursued not only wisdom but pleasures. A king where money was no object and he denied himself nothing - power, pleasures and endless pursuit of his desires defined his life.
Interestingly, this same king writes the book of Ecclesiastes to document his exploration of determining the purpose of life. He concludes that pleasures, folly, toil, oppression, advancement, riches and even wisdom are all meaningless, all "a chasing after the wind." That humanity (whether we are rich or poor, powerful or powerless, wise or foolish) faces a common destiny and that life is genuinely meaningless apart from God.
I read his opening words, and I first think of hopelessness. I read these words and think of souls who don't believe life is worth living. Lives where hopelessness and despair clouds vision, taints perspective and leads to destruction. I cannot begin to fathom their pain or understand the depths of their depression, but I wonder if much of their lives was spent chasing the wind?
Solomon's words speak to us all; as don't we spend much of our lives searching for meaning, purpose, certainty and pleasures? All elusive quests ...like chasing the wind.
Have you ever tried to chase the wind? Any success catching it? (Didn’t think so!)
If we know better than to try to chase the wind; why then, do we spend time chasing after elusive things?
In Ecclesiastes 3:11-14, Solomon writes- “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.”
So, God has placed eternity into our hearts giving us an innate desire to uncover meaning and purpose. Yet, in this life, our perspective and ability to understand is limited and distorted. Done intentionally, so that we will pursue God and look to Him for our real source of meaning and purpose.
Much like the wrong side of a tapestry; if you are looking at the wrong side, all you will see are knots and loose threads that give a chaotic appearance of jumbled colors and distortion. You are unable to make out the intended design with clarity. However, when the rug is turned over, the same threads interwoven by the creator are revealed, and a beautiful array of artistry, pattern, and design are clearly seen- a masterpiece is uncovered.
I believe our lives are much like the tapestry, even if all we see and understand is the knotty mess of colors on the back of the intended work of art -- God is weaving together a beautiful masterpiece.
Don’t let the transient or the struggle to find understanding and meaning trap you into actions or mindsets that leave you chasing the wind, doubting your life and focusing on the wrong side of things.
Instead, heed Solmon's final words- “Fear God and keep His commandments.” Ecc. 12:13-14.
Fear God and pursue faith.
Faith in your creator, faith in the one that holds the universe together, faith in the one who conquered death and promises eternal life. Faith in the source of the winds and faith in the maker of the tapestry.
God is the only pursuit worth chasing
and life is a gift from His hands!
Father, thank you for the gift of life. Help us, Lord, to have a healthy fear of you and to pursue keeping your commandments. You are the author of life and have given us the desire for meaning and eternity. May we stop chasing things that don't matter and start chasing after you!
“Then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all their efforts to search it out, no one can discover its meaning. Even if the wise claim they know, they cannot really comprehend it.” ~Ecc. 8:17 (NIV)