Vanity of Self

(from Lois Lang)  

Ecclesiastes 2:1-26...I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure.  So enjoy yourself.”  And behold, it too was futility.  I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?”  I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives.  I enlarged my works...I built houses for myself...I made gardens and parks for myself...I planted fruit trees...I made ponds of water for myself...I bought male and female slaves...I had flocks and herds...I collected for myself silver and gold...and singers...and concubines...This too is vanity and striving after wind.  (You can read the chapter in its entirety, but I think you’re getting the gist of what Solomon was saying from these excerpts.)

Solomon (who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes) had it all:  wisdom, riches uncountable, slaves, flocks and herds, concubines.  And he loved God with his whole heart.  But he was depressed.  It’s easy to see why:  his thoughts were solely on himself.  I--I--I--I--I!  The words “I” or “myself” are used thirty-six times in this one chapter.  Because his focus was entirely on himself, he was disappointed and dissatisfied and unfulfilled.  Yes, he “had it all”--but he found it all to be futility, or vanity, or “striving after wind.”  Once he turned his focus back to God, he found the fulfillment and satisfaction and meaningfulness of life he’d lost in his time spent in the Kingdom of Self.

I’ve done what Solomon did, and with the same results.  When I have focused on my needs, my desires, my problems, my possessions, I become afraid and worried and defeated.  But when I turn to my heavenly Father, my Shield and my Help, my Healer, my Provider, my Peace, the God Who Will Never Leave Me or Forsake Me...then everything falls into perspective.  Yes, without God, it is all futility.  But with Him, it is all joy.

O Father, how can I thank You enough for caring about me?  You love me in spite of the stupid or sinful things I do.  You forgive me, pick me back up and dust me off, and encourage me on my way.  And You sacrificed Your Son to save my soul.  What wondrous love this is!  Please help me to keep my eyes on You.  I love You, Lord.  We pray in the Name of Jesus, who emptied Himself in obedience to You.  Amen