“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ―Martin Luther
Our baby daughter is at it again, tearing down the block-built towers of the older kids. I’m sorry, kids. She needs to be in here now and there’s no keeping her from the blocks for the moment.
One of them stays and keeps building. Why? He builds high towers, enjoys them for their moment, then sighs as they crash down.
Here is a window into life. If you have imbibed Ecclesiastes, perhaps you’ve already thought of where this is going.
The pattern of life is pretty simple. Nothing you build lasts. Everything is fleeting. Life is super-duper hard. As Wesley says in The Princess Bride, “Get used to disappointment.”
Life is a vapor, a tower built with loving care which crashes down before its time. The writer of Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth, gives us the futile cycle in poetic detail. He tells us tales of unremembered greatness, of fortunes passed to fools, of spending all your life digging a magnificent hole that becomes a grave you are buried in –then forgotten.
And he has some advice for you, given these facts that don’t often make it into a Prosperity Heretic’s sermon.
Enjoy your life. Enjoy your wine, your wife, and your work. Enjoy your daily bread. Only God can give you joy.
Build your tower with gladness. It will certainly crash, and there’s a good chance you’ll be buried in the rubble.
So, be happy while the sun shines and build on.
“Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.
Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.
Remove vexation from your heart, and put away pain from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity.”
(Ecclesiastes 11:7-10, ESV)
—– —– ——
This is the third of a little series called Blockpile Meditations. These are loosely-related, short posts you should feel no pressure to read. But if you wish to, here’s the first and here, predictably, is the second. Thanks, friends. -Sam
- Make Believe Makes Believers - July 19, 2021
- The Archer’s Cup is Here - September 30, 2020
- It Is What It Is, But It Is Not What It Shall Be - March 30, 2020
Brenda Branson says
Perhaps the “sigh” is a most proper response to all the frustrating things out of our control. Anger and anxiety raise one’s blood pressure and creates havoc in relationships while a simple sigh is an exhaling breath that calms both body and soul. Yay for sweet children who teach us such wisdom.
Loren Warnemuende says
Well said, Brenda.
S.D. Smith says
You are good at pointing out the good, Brenda.
This is a beautiful reflection on accepting joy in the midst of a weird world. I have drunk thirstily from Ecclesiastes during this period of my life when many things feel futile. I’m so thankful God put this in the Bible so we would know we are not alone or crazy when we feel the very real, though not complete, futility of life. As Wesley also says, “Life is pain,” although that’s not the whole picture.
Now I’m gonna go enjoy some work, some wine, and my husband 😉
S.D. Smith says
I’m with you, Kathleen. I don’t find Ecclesiastes depressing, but to reflect reality in a comforting, though profound and serious, way. God give you joy.
James Witmer says
This is great, Sam. You’ve given us another way to see that it is the act of building (a participation with the Builder) that is precious, because it is really we who are made by it.
S.D. Smith says
Thanks, James. Well said.