Be Still Know
Ecclesiastes: 1:2 NLT
‘Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless!’
I don’t know what the word ‘vanity’ (which other translations use rather than the NLT’s ‘meaningness’) says to you. To me it suggests overconfidence in one’s own appearance. As a teenager I always left the house with a glance in the mirror and the words on my lips, ‘Wow, it’s your lucky day, world, for here I come!’ Some might suggest I had lots of self-confidence – but it was more than that. I had an excessive pride in all I had to offer the world.
The writer of Ecclesiastes uses the word ‘vanity’ in both its meanings. He suggests there is an arrogance when we think we offer much to this world of ours. He also reflects upon the worthlessness of so much human activity. The word we use comes from the Latin vanitas, meaning ‘empty’. Five times in this scripture passage the Teacher uses this word ‘vanity’ or ‘empty’, decrying the very purpose and act of living itself.
This might sound very negative and not hugely Christian to you. Yet, here it is counted sufficiently valuable to be included in the canon of scripture. I find the words quite liberating. It isn’t just in the midst of despair that I have paused to consider what value there is in living. It is now, remarried, doing things I love and seeing my child do well in work and my mum enjoying living with us, that I can wonder about the apparent futility of life.
Life with God is never measured against outcomes. It is in recognising the reality of divine love and making a response to such love. Rushing on in pursuit of significance has been in the past what I based my life upon. Choosing to wait on God and to be significant to no one but God is humbling and can at times itself feel empty. Yet, God alone has the grace to nourish me, the spirit to fill me. Over time my deepest ache is to be for God, rather than for my own self-realisation.
QUESTION: Do you find yourself wondering what life’s really all about?
PRAYER: Lord, may my purpose be to enjoy and glorify you forever.