“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
Read: Ecclesiastes 1:1-3:22, 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Psalm 46:1-11, Proverbs 22:15
Relate: For a while now the teachers have beck at school but the students have not yet arrived. Of course the first week was full of meetings that I describe as 1/3 real planning and preparation and 2/3 amateur TED talks. Even the others teachers were ridiculously bored. At least they weren’t hearing it in a language that on a good day I have only the most tenuous of grasps. Fortunately, those meetings are mostly in the past. This week we have been working on decorating the rooms and halls. Here is some of our artwork:
It has been fun and a great time to work with the other teachers. It has also been great to practise some long neglected skill sets like cutting in a straight line and tracing pictures from powerpoint. Beyond that, everything we have done has been meaningless. These and the other walls like them have received more than twenty hours of attention from dozens of teachers. On the first day of school, some of the kids will spend a minute or two admiring the work. They will all look for their names and their friends names. Then those boards we have invested so much time on will be nothing but background noise for the next few months until it is time to “winterize” them and more hours of work will garner more minutes of attention.
I play a game called Vikings. It is one of those MMO strategy game apps you can get on your phone. I spent a good amount of time playing Clash of Clans but since my cousins introduced me to this one, I haven’t touched Clash. All that investment in time… I could care less about Clash now. On Vikings, you have to manage resources, buildings, army, and inventions. Each of these take a certain amount of time and you can’t work on a “new” upgrade in any category until your current is complete. In one hour fifty-six minutes and twenty-five seconds something is going to be done. I don’t know what, but I have a timer on my phone. When that timer goes off, I’ll hop on the game, do the upgrade, maybe respond to a comment in our clan chat, then hop back off. Of course, I’ll then reset the timer for whenever the next thing comes due. A part of me wonders, how long before this game has been dropped for some new one? How much time that I am investing now will be completely meaningless a year from now?
React: What is obviously, blatantly true with regards to phone games and classroom decorations is just as true with other things for which people are deadly serious. Honestly, fifty years from now it won’t much matter which… person… is elected president in the coming American election. (Patting myself on the back for not using other words that also came to mind) It won’t much matter in a few decades if you try to stick with that secure job you hate or if you step out and try for something different. Teenagers, eventually it won’t matter whether or not you ask out that girl you are crushing on. I don’t care if she one day becomes your spouse, given enough time it still won’t matter. Everything under the Son is meaningless.
Solomon was a bitter old man when he wrote the opening lines of this book. Per capita he was one of the richest men in human history. He oversaw the construction of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. He guided the kingdom of Israel to the most dominant place it has ever held in world history. He collected an abundance of sayings that are still being quoted today. And yet he was right. There are few people who have ever had more of a right to say, “I matter.” Yet, he said the opposite and he was completely right to do so. Everything under the Son is meaningless. The only thing that matters is that Son and what we do about and for Him.
Help me to keep perspective. It is so easy in the day to day to get caught up with the day to day. It is so easy to place such a heavy amount of my wasted time and thought on things like people, politics and policies that ultimately mean nothing. It is so easy to invest my life into a job that ultimately accomplishes nothing. Help me to keep perspective. Help me to remember that my conversations are nothing but hot air unless I am speaking You. Help me to remember that my actions are wasted motion if they do not glorify You. Help me to remember that every step I take is aimless unless it brings me closer to You. Anything less than You, God, is meaningless.