Along with the goldenrod will come shorter days and cooler nights. And then before you know it, our Northwoods will be bathed in a blanket of white yet again.
How can it be that time marches forward so quickly? Almost 3,000 years ago, Solomon (whose Scriptural pen name was “Ecclesiastes,” or “Preacher,” “Teacher”) observed, “Nothing but vapor,” Ecclesiastes said. “Totally vapor. Everything is just vapor that vanishes.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, EHV) Solomon penned those words at the end of his life. It was a life, in many respects, he wasn’t proud of.
Why? Though the Lord had made Solomon “wiser than anyone else,” (1 Kings 4:31) Solomon didn’t use that wisdom to guide his life. Instead, when “Solomon became old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, so that his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord as the heart of his father David had been. Then Solomon followed Ashtarte, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord. He did not devote himself to the Lord as his father David had done.” (1Ki 11:4-6 EHV) How could a man so wise be so stupid?
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon reminisces about his life and his lack of loyalty toward his God. Solomon shares painful memories about how at first he tried to find meaning in endless partying. Then, after that rebellious phase in his youth, he settled down to what seemed to be a more mature, respectable life, one that was devoted to scientific research and massive public works projects. But his goal? Not to give glory to God but rather just to make a name for himself! So Solomon found no real, lasting meaning in what he had done. It was all nothing but a “vapor,” a morning mist that the sun soon burns away.
Thankfully, before the end, the Lord brought Solomon back into the fold of faith. So Solomon shared this vital, divine advice: “Remember your Creator before the silver cord is snapped, and the golden bowl is broken, before the jar is shattered by the spring, and the water-wheel is broken by the well, 7and the dust goes back into the ground—just as it was before, and the spirit goes back to God who gave it.” (Eccl12:6-7 EHV) The language is the typical repetitive imagery found in Hebrew poetry, but the message is clear. “Before you die, remember the One who created you.”
You don’t think much about dying when you’re 16, but it crosses your mind a little more when you hit the big 40. And still more when 50 flies past. And then comes 60, and then. . . . Oh well. I’m racing toward the “70” age-bracket now. I know my days ahead on this earth will be far fewer than those in my rear-view mirror. I also sense every year is flying by far more quickly—like a vapor. But none of this frightens me, much less bothers me. Why? Because I know my Creator holds me safe in his all-powerful hands, and when I die my soul will return to my God. Heaven waits!
As Paul observed, “It is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is almost over, and the day is drawing near.” (Romans 13:11-12, EHV)
When you see the goldenrod, remember your life on earth is but a vapor. Only in Christ will it last forever!
Privileged to serve,
Rev. Glenn Schwanke