When I was in grad school at ACU I was given the assignment of writing a treatise on the theology of the book of Ecclesiastes. The title of this article is the title I gave that paper. I love reading that book. The author seems to have such a fresh, clear perspective on life. I have known some over the years who say Ecclesiastes is negative and depressing. I heartily disagree. I think it is written by a realist. He is trying his best to offer his experience to any who will listen. His goal is to help them not have to learn the hard way as he did. This book is filled with brilliance.
In some ways, life today seems harder than it used to be. Our young families are running in circles for so many reasons. Students are running ragged, competing for top grades or spots on the team. I don’t remember it being this competitive when I was in school. All the extra-curricular activities from dance to sports to cheer to band and choir demand so much more from these kids. Almost every sport has become year-round with off-season training and practice. School performances have become major productions, requiring months of preparation and commitment. It is all so much work!
Sometimes I find myself wanting to just scream, “Stop!!!” Our hectic, fast-paced culture keeps ramping up and demanding more. Mortgages and braces, bigger homes and nicer cars, more stuff to prove our love and worth, all demand that husbands and wives give more and more of their time to work and earning. It seems we have less and less time to walk together in the cool of the evening or sit quietly and reflect on who we are becoming. As the writer of old would say - it feels like chasing after the wind.
I ache for so many teens and young families. I feel the same concern for those of us who are nearing retirement age, but do not feel the treadmill slowing in any way. I ache for my own family when the race seems to grab us by the souls to make us feel inadequate or lazy if we take time to relax, or play, or just enjoy an afternoon doing nothing more than just being!
Oh yes, I definitely relate to the writer of Ecclesiastes. This all seems meaningless and chasing after the wind. In the end he gives a great short-hand to the life lived by Divine perspective. Listen to these words from Ecclesiastes chapter 12:
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"
It seems those days come earlier than they used to. He ends by reminding us that the best we can do with our days is to fear God and keep his commandments. In the end, nothing else matters.
Adding my two cents, take some time in the next few days to do nothing - and take someone else with you. It just might be the most productive thing you do all week!
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