12 Remember also your Creator in vthe days of your youth, before wthe evil days come and the years draw near of whichxyou will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; 2 before ythe sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain, 3 in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and zthose who look through the windows are dimmed, 4 and athe doors on the street are shut—when bthe sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all cthe daughters of song are brought low—5 they are afraid also of what is high, and dterrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eeternal fhome, and the gmourners go about the streets—
6 before the silver cord is snapped, or hthe golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is ishattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and jthe dust returns to the earth as it was, and kthe spirit returns to God lwho gave it. 8 mVanity of vanities, says nthe Preacher; all is vanity.
9 Besides being wise, nthe Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging omany proverbs with great care. 10 nThe Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.
11 pThe words of the wise are like goads, and like qnails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are rgiven by sone Shepherd. 12 My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making umany books there is no end, and vmuch study is a weariness of the flesh.
13 The end of the matter; all has been heard. wFear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.14 For xGod will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
There are times when I think this may be the most majestic, poignant chapter in the entire Old Testament.
This past Sunday was commencement at our school. I was on the platform shaking hands, hugging necks- the smiling graduates had diplomas in hand and big changes ahead.
A high school senior is a special time. These young men and women look so handsome. Their eyes are bright. Their bodies are lean and healthy.
But as a soon to be 49 year old... I know just a little of what is coming. And I know how fast it will come and go.
My inner man has had one of the more remarkable experiences in my entire life. I have found myself wrestling with thoughts and feelings that have visited before..but never taken residence.
In God's providence, He has allowed a late spring cold which has held on long enough to cause a number of sleepless nights and even a low grade fever.
So as I am saying..."Congratulations! ...I'm proud of you...I'm going to miss you....You DID it!..I love you, you are going to do great things.....way to go....." I feel this odd juxtaposition.
They are full of energy....I am worn out
They seem so young...I feel old
They seem so excited and vibrant...and I am heavy with life.
I came home and slept. Weary inside and out.
But the neat thing is- I never feel abandoned by God. In my lows, sometimes it even seems like a mild depression, I have always been able to call out to my Father. I was in bed, body aches, and just whispered in my head."Thank you Lord for loving me. Thank you for caring for me. I wait on you to pick me back up and get me going. I can't do this without you."
So what does this have to do with Ecclesiastes 12? Everything.
- FINDING GOD IN THE TIMES OF YOUTH
Remember also your Creator in vthe days of your youth, before wthe evil days come and the years draw near of whichxyou will say, “I have no pleasure in them”
The question is 'why' should we remember God when fresh and green in our youth. I believe there are many great reasons. God's way is the best way- His design is how we function best. I have always been intrigued with the truth of Romans 6.
21 wBut what fruit were you getting at that time from the things xof which you are now ashamed? yFor the end of those things is death
What benefit have I ever received from walking outside the ways of God? NONE. Freedom became slavery. Fun became regret. Self rule turned into selfishness. And a wake of destruction was always left in the ruins of poor decisions.
But there is an even greater reason to begin early. God is rich in relationship and His faithfulness is established firmly in our minds over decades and not days. Seeing Him come through in the small things...before mortgages and marriage. Before the darker days draw nigh.
- GROWING OLDER IN GRACE AND WITH GRACE
Now, let's talk about us older folks. We have before us a template of what will happen as we move through the marathon of life...though none are guaranteed another breath.
William Shakespeare expressed this soberly in the Seven Ages of Man
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players,
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth
And then the justice
In fair round belly, with good capon lined.
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side,
His youthful hose well sav'd, a world too wide,
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again towards childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
This is where we get the saying: Man once-baby twice
sans means 'without'
The question is: How can we keep joyful and hopeful with such a sad reality awaiting us?
And the only answer is the GOSPEL and its promise of new life in Christ.
I have written on this before, but our philosophy of death will impact how we live our life.
Here is an example link:
The Ignominious End
Look how this passage speaks of this end- beautiful imagery:
6 before the silver cord is snapped, or hthe golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is ishattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern, 7 and jthe dust returns to the earth as it was, and kthe spirit returns to God lwho gave it. 8
Get to know God well.. in the good times.. in the spring of life.
This is a message that we can all relate to!
There is a lot more in this passage. My favorite piece deals with the weariness that comes from studying, implying that the Words of God are enough.
I'm hoping that since I am at the end of school, I can get things wrapped up - learn from my mistakes- remember the things I have done well, and spend the summer preparing to get better.