Posts Tagged Vanity

A Time of Vanity

Reading Ecclesiastes this morning helps me express what is occurring in this middle-aged head of mine.  For some time now, life as I had always planned, dreamed, desired, and hoped for has been swept away.  Why is that?  Why does it all seem to be a futile effort?

Ok, not ALL of it, but a big majority of it anyway.

The American dream, white picket fence, Cleaver family, warm-fuzzy world that I once wanted seems so futile.

Vanity of vanities…..all is vanity.”

What profit do I have from all my labor?  What has been “the point” ? In a worldly perspective, we are born to die.  Others will come after us to repeat the same thing over again.  What is the meaning of this word “life”?

It’s like a vicious cycle…..  “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full;  To the place from which the rivers come, there they return again.” 1:7

People are born into this world.  They are told the “meaning of life”.  They grow up striving for success and then one day……it all changes.

This is that day for me.  This “season” is like a day….THE day that all my life’s work and efforts begin to change.

Right now I’m standing still.

It’s like the Lord has halted me.    “Julie!  Stop!”

Stop striving!  Stop doing! Shut down your hands, your feet, your mind, and your heart.  Don’t do anything!”

Listen to me!  I have a better plan!  Your plan is all VANITY!  It’s absurd!  It’s futile!  It’s nonsense!”

“You are grasping for the wind, and you will never ever catch it!”

So I wait.

I wait on the Lord to reprogram this mind of mine.

“…I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly.  I perceived that this also is grasping for the wind.” 1:17

For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.” 1:18

Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.  There was no profit under the sun.”  2:11

For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, Since all that now will be forgotten in the days to come.  And how does a wise man die?  As the fool!” 2:16

Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me for all is vanity and grasping for the wind.”  2:17

Sorrowful and distressing it is.  Wisdom is grievous.  This I have learned.  I can only imagine how much grief Solomon experienced.  How much grief does the Lord experience because of the human race?

So I wait.

I’m serious.  I hardly smile.

I’m standing at a cross roads with no plans, almost afraid to make any decisions and waiting for the Lord to change my path.

It’s hard to describe but this feeling of discontent and worthlessness leaves me joy-less, yet hopeful and excited.  All my dreams and goals early in life just don’t seem to matter anymore.  What I once thought was most important has been shattered.  There is no reciprocation of many of the efforts I have made, yet just gaining that knowledge is leading me to higher thoughts of what is to come.

It can be disheartening to know that what has been happening for 40 years is not what should have been happening.

Or is it?

Is this a road we all must take?  Does the Lord allow us to make our path and then all of the sudden grab us by the throat and show us that it is all vain?

Is this a lesson that we all must learn?  Is it disguised as “middle age crisis” or perhaps the “empty nest syndrome”?  What does the world call it when you stop to ponder what has been and what is to come?  Solomon called it all vain.

It’s kind of a downer, I know.  Just reading through what I’ve written here is depressing, sorry.  Just know that whatever stage of life you are in, there is a season in which you will doubt and wonder.  I’ve known several people who seem to have reached this type of time in their life.  They have been joy-less for a season.  Thankfully, when I start to question my sanity, I remember that others have gone before me and when the season ended, God made a great work from it.

So I continue to wait……regretfully, sorrowfully waiting….almost grieving at times…hoping the Lord will take the “me” from “me” and replace it with Himself.  There’s only joy in the Lord and I trust it will come.

My life and my death belong to Him.   It is not I who should be elevated or remembered.  The failure or success of my life on this earth means nothing if it doesn’t point to Him.

So who did I think I was?!  …Planning and proceeding as though I had some legacy to to leave for others?  I have to insert a “L.augh O.out L.oud” here!  Others will come after me.  Some may remember me.  Most will not.  The only legacy I wish to leave is that of a humble, obedient child of God.

Maybe my grief and sorrow comes from needing to know that all has not been vain. How am I to find happiness in raising children, cleaning house, and making dinner without knowing that it is leading to salvation for those I love?  What is “joy” in our labor when it doesn’t prove eternal?

I just want to climb on the roof and desperately call for somebody to please tell me I have pointed them toward a deeper relationship with God!  Even if just in some small way, knowing this would appease my soul.  How many witnessing opportunities have I missed in the first 40 years of my life?  How many of my mistakes have made a detrimental impact on others?

Maybe at this stage, my desire should be that I will be forgotten after all.  Maybe what I’m really trying to say is that I hope the Lord will be remembered even more because of what He has done through me.

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