Becoming Free-Lessons from Ecclesiastes 2:11

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind, nothing was gained under the sun. Ecclesiastes 2:11

While watching my grandchildren the other day, I followed the house rules by reminding my granddaughter that her homework had to be finished before she could play. The expectation became that once she finished her school work she could expect to play. I know when growing up I had similar expectations. The expectations of completing chores may have even included a few dollars from time and time, and later when working jobs a pay check, of course, was the expected result of my toils.

From completing our school assignments to working our jobs, we place an expectation that we will receive retribution for our efforts. When checking off our goals, or seeing our first book in print. or walking that 10,000th step of the day, we can measure our efforts as successful. When we exceed sales targets, or run that marathon, or declutter those office drawers, we can feel accomplished and successful from these things. Our expectation can grow that things are what make us a success and life meaningful. The idea that it is the stuff of the world that we can expect to make us feel successful, is planted in us at a very young age from well-meaning adults (something I still catch myself doing to the ones I love).

Things are Temporary

The thing is though, that things are just temporary. That A on that exam, that one marathon, that one completed book can make us wonder what is next to achieve. We search for meaning and happiness from what we have and do. We use things expecting them to serve us instead of seeing them as gifts from God. Solomon called this endless toil for life’s pleasures as “chasing the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). Wind passes by us just like our good feelings from our accomplishments. All is temporary.

“We use things expecting them to serve us instead of seeing them as gifts from God.”

What is Meaningful?

Celebrating our achievements, recognizing our talents and gifts, are good things, when we move our expectation from the thing itself being a means to an end. In other words, it is not in the achievements that we receive meaning. When we are no longer expectant of things to bring us meaning, our security and self-worth no-longer are dependent on our successes, accomplishments, or anything that is temporary. We become free to enjoy God’s gifts in our lives.

Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works. Ecclesiastes 9:7

And this brings me a cheerful heart! Joy Bailey, author and project manager of Hope Connections, after just picking up first copies for final, final edits (hopefully) of Hope Connections! You can find out more about the project at Inspiring Hope In You.

What gifts from God are you enjoying today? Is there anything you are placing your time and energy into that may one day be considered as a “chasing after the wind?”

Round and Round We Go

Maui Sunset

“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” Ecclesiastes 1:5

Late in his life, around 935 B. C., Solomon wrote reflections that we now read in the wisdom book, Ecclesiastes. Although written approximately 3,000 years ago, his words apply as he intended for all future generations. Interestingly, we still say the sun rises and sets, even though we know now that the sun stays in place while the earth does a full rotation around the sun every 24 hours, passing through it’s light. Daily, around and around the earth spins on it’s axis, never changing it’s direction causing the sun to appear to rise in the east and set in the west.

Nothing is new under the sun.

Death is a Certainty

Round and round life goes, Solomon writes (Ecclesiastes 1:8). Anything you do will have been done again if not already done before. (9) No one will remember the generations that have been and yet to come. (1:11). You will be forgotten.

Maybe it’s because I am now in my mid-fifties that I find myself more curious about my family’s past generations. Maybe it is because I have had loved one’s pass away seemingly too soon and before the generation before them. Maybe I am questioning more what the meaning is of all this time I have left here on this side of heaven. If I take a measuring tape, and with my fingers on one hand on the number that reflects my age, and then the other hand’s fingers on the number when I think I will leave this place, I see a whole lot of tape fallen away from me, and less between my fingers. It is the less that is left.

Death is a life certainty for us all.

Maui

Our Insatiable Search

God’s plan for us though, goes beyond life and death.

“The world and it’s desires passes away, but who ever does the will of God lives forever” 1 John 2:17.

To grasp that there really is nothing new under the sun can be complex. Once I used a dial telephone that hung on a wall and now I punch numbers on a phone that I carry in my pocket. Generations before me that I do not know sent letters via a messenger or may have been the messengers sent on behalf of others. The way we communicate is new. Or has it just changed? The pursuit of communicating with others is not new, just the devices on how we communicate have changed. And will change again.

The search for what we think are better ways to navigate our world continues. The pursuit for better goes round and round, never changing, never new. Solomon calls the pursuit for world pleasures meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:1). Pursuits not of God leave us feeling empty and insatiable. True happiness cannot be achieved from the pleasures of this world without God at our centre.

Maui

“Happiness is too noble and delicate a plant, to grow in this world’s soil.” – Thomas Watson

I hope you’ll join me over the next weeks as I do deep dive into the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes. Gosh, I need it, I know! Together we’ll discover that understanding the meaningless pursuits in our lives leads us to using the time we have left here wisely and fulfilling.

If you haven’t taken a look yet, come on over to Inspiring Hope In You where you will meet the Hope Connections writers! The Hope Connections book is in final edits and hope to have a hard copy in our hands in the next couple of weeks. This week’s feature post is by contributing author and poet – Hope Defined by Connie Mae Inglis.

(And talking of things going round and round…who remembers the Banana Comb from the 80’s? I guess they are on a comeback! I had a favourite pink one I wore almost daily! And butterfly clips too, are back, but honestly, I never stopped wearing those. Is there something that you have continued to use beyond it’s popularity? Or something you’d like to see come back in popularity?)

Linked up today at Recharge Wednesday with Soaring in Him