Thursday, September 23, 2010

Life Within Life

Meaningless!  Meaningless!
says the Teacher.
Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless!
(Ecclesiastes 1:2)

I used to find Ecclesiastes a bit of downer but I finally get it!  Lately, as I have had time to think, I realised in me is a deep hunger ... a deep yearning for ... something.  When I stop for just a moment, I can see the emptiness - and that emptiness ... that yearning is for God.  Nothing else will fill that place.  I am hungry and I am destitute without intimacy with God.  Everything else is just a hollow shell, because it is God who inhabits, and brings life, purpose and meaning.  The picture I have that relates to this state and this emptiness is from when my father died.  I was with him when he passed and I remember thinking he is no longer there.  His body was a shell and the very essence, the life, the core had gone.  And this is how life is without God for me.  It's all just a shell.

I have been privileged to see and experience wonderful things.  I have travelled beyond my wildest dreams ... seen and done things that people only dream about.  The places, the faces ... the experiences have been incredible and yet, none of it satisfies.  Without God in it, it's all just a lifeless shell.  I can understand why the writer of Ecclesiastes lamented that everything was meaningless.  He had so much ... by world standards ... everything ... and yet he was hungry and unsatisfied.

The Hebrew for the word "meaningless" comes the world "hebel" which means breath.  It can also mean vapour, and figuratively speaking, vanity.  When I read this, it kind of blew me away because I had been thinking of the lifeless shell image.  The Ecclesiastes writer got it exactly.  Everything ... all the gold ... all the glory ... all the girls ... all of it was just a hollow shell without life.  None of it would satisfy because there was no breath.  And all of it, here and gone like a vapour.  How like life this is.  We run from experience to experience - it's here, and whoof!  Gone ... vapourized.  

What is the answer?  Well lately, I have found myself singing an old Vineyard song ... and really it says it all ... you might want to sing it or pray it along with me.

Jesus, be the centre
Be my source
be my light

Jesus, be the centre
Be my hope
Be my sun

Be the fire in my heart
Be the wind in these sails
Be the reason that I live
Jesus, Jesus

Jesus by my vision
Be my path
Be my guide

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