Swipe left on your instagram story feed and you will quickly see what matters most to people: a young mother holding her infant with a white ‘I love you’ scrolled across their picture; a personal trainer growing his clientele with muscle-bulging selfies and ‘never quit’ shout-outs; an over-coming widower/sold-out preacher with ‘through it all, God is faithful’ . . . In a moment, what is most important to a person is captured for all to see.
What matters most can oft hinge on age or stage of life. For your preschool-aged son, getting his needs met is the priority—you know, things like dry underpants, Lego rocket ship help, and a timely preschool pickup.
Same boy a dozen years later wonders if he will be quick enough for the high school soccer team, if he’ll make the competitive cut.
And now that same man has crested the wave of adulthood and no matter if things haven’t turned out the way he thought, or something happens to jolt him awake, he realizes something’s missing. And so he goes on a search. “Really? Is this all there is?” he asks himself. “Everything suddenly feels so meaningless.
Sure enough, the teacher writes “Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless! What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north . . . history merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now…I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.
What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.”1
Finally, he says, “Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.”2
Was the writer of Ecclesiastes right? Is everything meaningless? Come on, let’s be honest--if life has hit you hard, if you are depressed or living under a dark cloud of some sort, it certainly can feel that way. Sometimes things just seem hopeless.
Yesterday, as I sat discussing Scripture with my corporate brothers, one guy said, ‘hey you know this Kobe thing has everybody talking.’ [When you read this, it will be one week since the tragic helicopter accident that killed Kobe Bryant, retired NBA great and his daughter and several other wonderful people aboard the aircraft.] ‘It was just so shocking for everyone,' my friend said. I hear all these athletes talking and people are going to keep talking because they realized it could have been them… just as easily, it could have been them. Suddenly, people are asking about meaning in their own lives, they're thinking about mortality…’ ‘Yeah, they are thinking about God,’ another said back across the table.
So too, our preschool boy turned high school athlete turned businessman realizes he is missing true meaning in his life. That’s what King Solomon was getting at in the above passage I quoted.
What matters most is knowing the purpose of our lives—why we are here, where we are going, and our uniqueness in God. One of the great things about God is that he does not play guessing games; no, instead he reveals all of these things to us in his Word… in the unfailing truths of Scripture. Absolute truth.
Listen to me--Since we are finite, imperfect beings we must access something bigger and higher and greater than ourselves, and that something is Someone – the God of the Universe.
And so I close with what Jeremiah said to Israel, which also has application for us:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you a hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me
With all your heart.”3
Maybe you aren’t even sure where to start . . .
Maybe it has been a long time . . .
You could start with a simple prayer, “God I need you. Show me you’re there.”
And then watch for him to show up.
1- Ecclesiastes 1.2-11, shortened
2- Ecclesiastes 12.13
3- Jeremiah 29.11-13