I started this blog mostly to be an encouragement to those like myself to slow down and savor life. In the past five years my family has gone through illnesses, hospital stays, deaths, financial loss, drama of relatives crises and divorces, personal spiritual crises, depression, homeless wandering, and extreme reduction of personal property. Even now, like many people out there, we are still struggling, but there is hope.
During this time of torrential downpour, little flowers have bloomed. My son was born during this time, my husband completed his PhD, we made lots of great life-long friends, and we have learned to slow down our life to enjoy the simple joys. We aren’t in the rat race anymore. We were kicked out long ago kicking and screaming. We never had much of a chance to compete with the Joneses anyways. I think we were wired wrong for being trendy. I now find that I never want to go back to that way of living. “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” (Eccl. 1:1) This leads me to why the book of Ecclesiastes gives me hope and Joy.
Most Christians I have talked to say, “Really? I find the book of Ecclesiastes depressing.” I don’t really find that surprising. Most of us still have this deep hope in the bottom of our heart that we can be super successful by the world’s standards and control our destinies by our own efforts and wisdom. This is human. For me, life hit me hard between the eyes and all of that was swept away with each successive crumbling of all that I had thought I had been able to do.
For me, the lesson that Ecclesiastes brought in teaching about the vanity of the struggle for wealth, fame, success, honor, and legacy speaks very deeply to my own experiences. Life is so short! Is this really what it is all about? Is it really possible even to force these things into our lives like all the promotional speakers say?
The weight we carry on our shoulders of trying to be in control of our destinies, wrestling with the forces of the universe to do our bidding, to be responsible if we fail to succeed, let down loved ones, or get ill is a load too heavy for us to bear. To live life by rules and standards set upon us by society that no one person could possibly accomplish in a lifetime of being super-mommy or all-powerful daddy is an emotional and guilt ridden life of striving for the wind. Ecclesiastes 9:11 says, “…the race is not to the swift, nor battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happens to them all.” In reality, you can’t make your life do anything. We don’t control life or death. We don’t know whether our plans will succeed or fail. We cannot control the stock market, inflation, illness, or crime. Only God can. Only God knows the future and can prepare us for it. Only God controls our destinies. Not having to be god for my own life and leaving it all in the hands of a loving and wise God is a relief.
I have heard adults wish they could be children again so that they didn’t have to deal with all the problems in their lives. Well, in many ways, we are children and we can just hand everything over to some one who knows more than us. All we are expected to do is simple: “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Eccl. 9:10) and “fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). This gives us so much freedom to just live each day as it has been given to us!
Slow down. Savor. Make memories. This is what will matter to you when you are on your death-bed. God has made everything beautiful in its time (Eccl. 3:11) and He created a time for everything (Eccl. 3:1-8), so why not fully experience each moment as it has been given? This is the lesson I am continually learning and relearning and will still be learning for the rest of my life. I hope you to will see the freedom, joy, and hope that I feel when reading the book of Ecclesiastes.