After It’s All Said And Done!
By Dot Bowen
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV)
It was one of those nights where I needed to sleep, but I couldn’t turn off my brain. It feels like it was yesterday when I celebrated my 50th birthday. Truth be told, it’s been 14 years since that sleepless night. And since I was already awake, I thought I might as well wake Howard so I could share my thoughts and fears about getting old with him. With sadness in my voice, I said, “I can’t believe I’m going to be 50, half my life is over!” Being the positive man he is, Howard replied, “That’s a good thing! It means you will live to be 100!” It didn’t take long for me to realize waking Howard was not a great idea. I spent the rest of the night facing the reality of my life being more than half over!
Have you ever wondered why it takes birthdays or New Year’s Eve to prompt us to reflect back on our lives? And wouldn’t it be nice to know the outcome of our choices before we had to choose them? Unfortunately, I believe we must reap the consequences of a few bad decisions before we truly understand the value of wise choices. I have lived long enough to know we can learn a lot from watching the mistakes of others. And we can also learn valuable lessons from observing a life well spent.
Solomon was probably the only man to have possessed everything life had to offer. God called him the wisest man to ever live. Solomon was extremely wealthy and held a position of power; his life would have been someone else’s lifelong dream! But at the end of his life, he wrote a passage of Scripture telling us everything in life is worthless! In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon reflects over his personal experiences, his general observations about life, and his conclusion that a life without God has no meaning. As a parent, I find comfort when Solomon returns to the teaching of his own father, King David. The wisest, wealthiest, most powerful man who ever lived warns us that life without God has no meaning and will leave us bitter, lonely, and feeling hopeless. Solomon reflects on his life and concludes that each of us will experience a time of abundance and a time of loss. He reminds us that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you possess, you can’t keep life from changing.
Today, we face a new year. How would you like this coming year to be different from the past year? When Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, he was looking back on his life and recognized he had lived most of it apart from God. At the end of his life, he warns us not to make the same mistakes he did. Have you ever said these words: I want my life to count... I want my life to make a difference... I want my life to be significant... I want my life to have meaning and purpose? Depending on what you are doing in life right now, you have more than a single purpose. Many of you are mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, career women, etc., and with each role we have to manage these responsibilities simultaneously. Whatever the role God has placed you in at the moment defines your immediate purpose. Along with these roles, God clearly gives us a goal to reach for while we are here on earth. In Ephesians 1:11-12 and 1 Corinthians 10:1, we are told whatever we “do,” we are to do for the glory of God. The motivation behind whatever we do should not be for personal recognition, but for God’s glory.
As we look forward to 2014, our New Year’s resolution should be to seek His approval and not the approval of others. This will free us to live a life that brings God glory. Only God is able to give us a life that counts, a life of significance, a life with meaning and purpose, and a life that will impact everyone around us. When we live our lives focused on our God-given purpose and the goal of our lives is to glorify Him, everything else will take second place. But don’t just take my word for it. To paraphrase Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “When all has been said and done, fear God and keep His commandments.”
We don’t get a second chance at living. But we can live each day understanding why we are here, what we are to do here on earth, and whom we are living for. If God is the answer to each of these questions, we will enjoy our life on earth and look forward to our life with God. After it’s all been said and done, there’s no meaning to life apart from a life with God. May 2014 be the year to find your purpose and goal in life!
Further Reading Ecclesiastes, Ephesians 1:11-12, 1 Corinthians 10:31