THE BOWL IS NOT THE GOAL

Read:  Ecclesiastes 2:12-17

Reflect:  The engraving on the tarnished silver bowl is barley legible after residing in my closet for close to forty years.  The recipient had been Hazel, a teacher who had begun her career in a one room school during the Great Depression. For years, every night at the kitchen table Hazel faithfully graded her students’ papers. Her life was filled with work. Hazel entered oration contests (a big thing in her day), soloed with the church choir, expended countless hours in her flower beds, paid scrupulous attention to her wardrobe (one could always spot her by her hats) and meticulously cleaned her house. She was never idle. Often a retirement gift is something catered to the hobbies of the recipient and how they would like to spend their free time.  Hazel never had free time; she was too busy looking for MORE.

SHE LONGED FOR MORE!

Through the years, her health began to deteriorate and the teaching atmosphere became more challenging.  She finally handed in her papers and received the engraved silver bowl.  And yet she longed for MORE. There always seemed to be one more accomplishment beckoning her in the horizon.  Her heart condition worsened and finally at age 65 her first grandchild was born, but she had lost her footing in life.  The pain from arthritis and the illness of years of emotional bitterness had saturated both her body and soul, but the longing for MORE recognition was still there. Then in February 1981 came the Sunday morning when she sat down after leading the opening songs for Sunday School.  As she fell over, she was probably dead of the heart attack before she even hit the floor.

SHE DIDN’T FIND MORE!

King Solomon, another stellar hard worker and the writer of Ecclesiastes was considered during his lifetime the wisest and richest person on earth.  He was known for his wisdom in leading his kingdom, his immense construction projects, his vast riches, and his multiple talents in the arts. Ecclesiastes 2 reads like the reflection of a person who has traveled a lot of miles and lost their way. Reflecting on life, Solomon noted: “Therefore I detested life, since for me the work that is done under the sun is bad; for all is vanity and a chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:17). Solomon realized that his life involved a whole lot of wind chasing. What had Hazel, my mother, thought was to be the crowning glory of her hard work?

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God created man for one purpose = the glory of God. We were made to reflect God in everything. That’s it. Mankind’s purpose is not fulfilled by the attainment of blue ribbons, making headlines in the news, or being celebrated as the smartest person in the room.  There are not any siler bowels that can satisfy the longing God has instilled within us – to glorify Him for eternity. “All who are called by my name, I created for my glory; I formed them, made them.” (Isaiah 43:7)

HOW TO DIE LIKE A FOOL?

Apply:  Ecclesiastes 2:16 poses the question: “How is it that the wise person dies like the fool?” The answer is: when the person ignores the purpose they have been created for and assumes that the silver bowl itself is the goal.

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