Union Ridge Church

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

by Reverend Dan on October 26, 2022
In a cemetery in England, one of the headstones gives the name, birthdate, and date of death of the person buried there. Under that information is his eulogy written in stone: “Not worth remembering.” Ouch. It reminds me of all we know about Methuselah, the man in the Bible who lived the longest recorded life in history. It says, “Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died.” Not what you’d call an overwhelming eulogy of remembrance.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon talks about life here “under the sun.” And when some of the first words of a book are, “Everything is meaningless”, you know it’s not going to be a fun read. But when you get past what appears to be a “glass half empty” perspective, you realize what’s going on. Solomon is writing about living in a fallen, hate-filled, broken world, so I guess he can’t help but to be a bit depressed. Truth be told, when we read the Bible, we want to hear about the jewels in our crowns and the streets of gold. We want to hear about the glory of eternity spent in the presence of God. If that’s what you’re looking for, Ecclesiastes isn’t the book to read. Instead, it’s a book about lives that constantly face suffering and pain and loss. A world where hearts are broken and bad things happen to good people, even God’s people. To summarize and paraphrase Solomon, “If this world is all there is – we’re in trouble.” So, with that as a backdrop, Solomon sets out on a journey to find the true meaning and purpose of life.

First, he tries wisdom and knowledge, but that leaves the smartest man who ever lived shaking his head because even he couldn’t explain pain, suffering and evil in a world created by a God who is good and is love. Pleasure? A hedonistic, unquenchable thirst to satisfy lust and desire? For Solomon, nothing was off limits in his search. He had the money and the power to have anything he wanted . . . and he tried it all. Life for him was one big party. If he could eat it, drink it, smoke it, touch it, or see it . . . he did it. And his finding? That’s not it either. All that happens trying to understand life through pleasure is that over time, as the intensity of what you’re doing decreases, you have to increase the portion. We call that addiction.
Wealth? Solomon found one problematic question finding purpose in riches: when is enough, enough? I once heard, “don’t measure your wealth by the things you have. Measure it by the things you have that you wouldn’t take money for. The things money can’t buy.” Lot of truth in that. Jesus asked, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul? You cannot serve both God and money.” True dat.

Solomon then turned to "stuff" - material possessions - and achievements and awards, trying to build a vast monument to himself. I’ve asked many times: how many hearses have you seen pulling a U-Haul? Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal. Instead, store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your heart is, your treasure will be also.” Solomon learned that as well.

After all that searching, what was Solomon’s conclusion to explain our purpose in life? “God has set eternity in your heart.” You can try everything in the world, but it’s all “meaningless vanity” because life only makes sense if God is at the center of the understanding. It’s His plan that gives meaning to everything. There truly is a purpose and time for every season and what you do with that time matters. God lives in eternity. That means time dwells within Him. He’s not bound by time. He’s never going to be late or early. He’s always right on time because He possesses time. And that’s where we find meaning for our lives. In HIS time . . . in HIS plan . . . in HIS purpose.

Let’s pretend your bank calls you on Friday to tell you an unknown benefactor has decided to deposit 86,400 pennies into your bank account every morning starting on the following Monday. That means you’re going to get $864 a day, 7-days a week indefinitely. And there’s only one stipulation - you must spend all the money on that same day. You can’t carry over the balance. Sweet.

Every day, the God who created you and loves you deposits 86,400 seconds – 24 hours - into your time bank. And the same stipulation applies - whatever you don’t use you lose because time can’t be banked up or carried over. From sunup today to sunup tomorrow, we all have exactly the same amount of time to make choices that can and will impact our lives. And we can spend that time any way we want. But you can only spend it once – and then it’s gone forever.
Every second of time is a gift, and Solomon is telling us we can waste it building up treasures here on earth; living lives of pleasure with no boundaries; accumulating “stuff” and trying to impress people. Or we can take that time and use it to create something that will carry over into the next life. Things like love and grace and mercy and forgiveness. It’s entirely up to you.
What’s on your calendar for today?