Meaningless! Meaningless! Says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless. What does he gain from all his labor under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
When did Solomon reach this conclusion? It came to him after he had undertaken great projects. He built houses, planted vineyards, made gardens and parks, owned more herds and flocks than anyone else, amassed silver and gold, and became the wisest man on earth (Ecclesiastes 2:4-9, 2 Chronicles 9:22-23). After all these accomplishments, he realized that everything was meaningless, a vanity, a chasing after the wind.
How sad for Solomon! But it will even be sadder for us if we do not learn from his warnings. As we ride toward our sunsets, what welcome do you think awaits us there? Will it be a colorful kaleidoscope of victorious celebration or a pitch-black darkness of dismal regret?
What went wrong along King Solomon’s life journey? The answer is that somewhere along the journey he forgot the most important things in his life—“he turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4).
This warning goes for us, too. When we forget our priorities, we will reach the end only to discover that we have chased after the wrong things. Let me share with you this poem by Linda Ellis which has inspired me to go for the right things.
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
And spoke of the following date with tears
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
She spent alive on earth
And now only those who loved her
Know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own
The cars, the house, the cash
What matters is how we live
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
That can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what’s true and real
And always try to understand
The way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives
Like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
And more often wear a smile
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash
Would you be proud of things they say
About how you spent your dash?