Reading: Eccl 12
And there you have it; this chapter is about our life. It mentions our youth, it talks about our old age. It tells of our purpose.
The most important advice given is to remember the Creator when you are young. There is a reason for this and if you teach your children about God when they are little you are giving them more than an education about the bible. You may also be saving their life when they are older.
This is because we all start out young and life back then was so simple and so innocent. This past week I was able to help babysit my grandson Jaxson for a couple of days. He has to be the happiest baby in the world. When you pick him up and look at him, he looks back at you and then breaks into a very big smile. His eyes sparkle and you can tell that he is happy.
His only problem is he doesn’t like to sleep. He loves instead to be carried around so he can see everything around him. He loves looking at the outdoors and his eyes grow wide with wonder. It will be interesting to see what happens when he learns to walk and then to run.
I have vivid memories of my childhood. Life was really good back then. Every year we would go to Sandy Island for bible school and it was the highlight of my childhood. All the kids in the neighborhood would gather together on the swing set behind Andy and Martha’s home and we would swing and sing about going to Sandy Island to the music of “when the saints go marching in”. Back then I would sing and I would sing to the top of my lungs.
That was probably why we didn’t have bears in the neighborhood back then; I think we scared them off with our singing.
All was well until the day I was in Junior high school and my Grandfather Irving Millay died. Life changed forever at that point. It was a lot for a happy child to grasp. I remember feeling somewhat numb for days. And I couldn’t understand why life went on as it normally did amid such a tragedy.
But life does go on and regardless of what happens in our life we learn to accept it.
As teenagers we begin to feel the need for independence, to do things on our own. We love learning to drive, getting our first job, opening a checking account in our name. But along with the accomplishments also come disappointment when it doesn’t quite work out the way we planned.
We fall in love for the first time. For us it will be forever, but usually our heart ends up getting broken and we add that to all the other pain that we carry around us. Perhaps we are one of those kids that don’t quite fit in. For some reason unknown to us we aren’t good enough. We are picked on for the way we look, or the way we dress or the way we talk. Some kids never are able to handle these pressures. The need to fit in is strong and it can lead us to compromise our beliefs just to be accepted by other kids.
As much as we have wanted to leave the home we grew up in, as that time actually gets closer we begin to get scared and worried. How will we be able to buy things, what will we do for work, where will we live? Life starts to become very real and it is no longer the fun and games that we once enjoyed as a child.
Sometimes it all works out, for a while anyways. We do end up finding work, but that work either ends up consuming us or we find out that it doesn’t really make us happy. Never the less it pays the bills and so we continue. We may end up getting married, but sometimes marriages don’t work out and instead of happiness and love we end up feeling distant from each other or arguing. We might have children and we learn quickly that children can consume our life. Of course we don’t mind that, because we have dreams and hopes for them as they grow, but sometimes it doesn’t turn out the way we thought it would.
I was on a cruise ship several weeks back and enjoying the moment. But life doesn’t end when we go on vacation. Things are always happening around us all the time. So I received an email from someone who contributes to my website. She shared with me that she had recently lost her son. He was 40 years old.
I really don’t know this pain, but I know that there are those who do. To have your own child die before you must be one of the most painful things that life could throw your way. I got more details when I returned from the cruise.
Apparently her son was married but the wife had an affair and the marriage ended. The wife took the kids and refused to let the son see them for several years. Eventually the son met a girl who happened to be a heroin addict ever since she was a teenager. He told his Mom that he hoped to help her so she would not overdose.
In March his 18 year old daughter wrote a letter to him telling him she wanted nothing to do with him. In June his girlfriend spent $20 to buy a cheap bag of drugs for them to share together. They both used the drugs, and he died.
It’s a sad story, and the reason I decided to share it this morning is to show just how messed up life can become. When you’re a child the dreams and hopes are wonderful. But those childhood dreams rarely become a reality and this world is sometimes filled with disappointments, pain, suffering. I really don’t know how a mother copes with losing her own child, especially in such a senseless and messed up way.
My daughter Elisabeth is married to man who lost his sister in senseless way. She was hit by a 20 year old drunk driver back in 2006 as she walked cross the road at night during her first year away at college. He is still carrying the pain of losing his sister, and even now, many years later, you can still see the grief in the eyes of his Mom and Dad.
How do you talk to someone like that about the God of Love that we know? What can you give them that would take away the pain? Will the hope of the Kingdom comfort their broken heart?
Many of us are trying to cope with the loss of people close to us. It helps when we feel that a time is coming when we may see them again. But what if they were not religious, what if they never became baptized? What if they rejected God? Is there any comfort in those cases, or are they gone forever?
So many questions, but life goes on and we learn to cope. Sometimes we find happiness again, but then it hits us - old age. Wow, what a change from our youth. We find it more difficult to lose weight; we find it difficult to just get up from a chair. Our memory starts to fade and we can’t remember what we did 5 minutes ago. Our hair falls out or goes gray. Our skin becomes wrinkled. We can’t open that jar of pickles anymore. We lose our teeth. We have hip replacements, we have knee replacements, we have hearing aids, and we have eye prescriptions. Getting up and getting dressed to come to meeting takes a lot of work.
This past week I helped my 90 year old father in law move out of his apartment into an assisted living home. It’s not a bad home and they take care of all his meals, but it certainly a far cry from the American Dream that we all heard about growing up. I didn’t read anything in the American dream brochure about the body becoming weaker and that we many need help just doing the basic things and may even end back up in diapers. I didn’t read anything in the brochure about how many people would lose the spouse the fell in love with and then have to live many years alone without them. That just was not part of the American Dream that we all heard about. But it is part of Ecclesiastes Chapter 12.
Like it or not, the bible tells it as it is. Life can become messed up, life can become difficult. We will have regrets, we will have disappointments, we will cry, we will have pain.
And all the things that the world teaches will make us happy doesn’t make us happy at all. It doesn’t matter if you have millions of dollars in the bank, it doesn’t matter if you have the latest car, it doesn’t matter if you are famous and live in a mansion on the sea coast, it doesn’t matter if you have a wife and children, we know it doesn’t matter because every day we see people with all those things get depressed, we see them turn to drugs and alcohol, we see them having affairs and divorces, we see them give it all up.
And that is why we are told to remember the Creator in the days of our youth. Because let’s face it. Sometimes we can’t take it anymore. We all get depressed, we all get discouraged, and we all wrestle with not feeling good enough. We all have regrets, things we are embarrassed by, things we wished that we could have done different and there is no time to go back and start again. We have tried over and over again to get it right, but life happens and we get side tracked.
Our survival in this world all depends on if we have God in our minds. All those memory verses, all those hymns, all the Sunday school classes we had as a child – well they sometime stay in our minds and when we are older they can help us make it through whatever the day brings.
We can make it through whatever the day brings because we know that a new day is coming. There will be another song for us to sing, and our life will finally be satisfying. We are so close.
We know we are close because there is so much happening in the world around us. This world is on a collision course with bible prophecy. In fact it is already happening. What is the most significant bible event that will take place in the next couple of years? A lot of people feel it’s Russia and all eyes are on Russia. But to me, the most significant bible event is happening right here in the United States.
We see it every time we read a newspaper. We hear it every time we watch the news. The politics of this country are consuming the airwaves to a point where many are just sick of it. But what does that have to do with bible prophecy?
The United States holds a key position at the United Nations and we are just one vote away of the United Nations using the power of International Law and dividing the land of Israel. When it happens it will be the most significant bible event to happen in our life time and will usher in the end of the world as we know it.
And the person who holds power over that one vote is whoever the president of the United States is at that time. It is no secret that the divide between the republicans and the democrats is becoming more divisive, but the divide that is most significant is the number of republicans who support Israel compared to the number of democrats that support Israel. Trumps action to move the embassy to Jerusalem made that divide stronger. In a recent survey 79% of republicans voiced support for Israel. Only 27% of democrats support Israel.
As soon as the democrats regain control of the White House you can be sure that they will move to reverse the things that Trump has done, including the favor he has shown towards Israel. This should not surprise us since the last democratic president did not have a good relationship with Israel; in fact by his action at the UN, a resolution was passed which found Israel in violation of International Law and it therefore gives the United Nations authority to take action against Israel. And we are just one vote away from that happening.
All this is happening right now before our eyes. We are very close and should never doubt that God is at work in the world around us. We should never believe that he has abandoned us here alone. We should never walk away from the hope that we have been given.
This is why this bread and cup are so important. God knows that we are broken. God knows that we sometimes feel like our life doesn’t matter to anyone. God knows that life has taken its toll on us.
But he takes us as we are, and He brings us here to share in these emblems. He takes our life that we feel is worthless and shows us that we have value in His eyes. Good things wait for those who trust God to take care of them.
So Remember your Creator while you are young, before the days of trouble come and the years when you say, “I find no pleasure in them”.
When you get old, the light from the sun, moon and stars will grow dark and the rain clouds will never seem to go away. At that time your arms will shake and your legs will become weak. Your teeth will fall out so you cannot chew and your eyes will not see clearly.
Your ears will be deaf to the noise in the streets and you will barely hear the millstone grinding grain. You’ll wake up when a bird starts singing, but you will barely hear singing.
You will fear high places and will be afraid to go for a walk. Your hair will become white like the flowers of an almond tree. You will limp along like a grasshopper when you walk. Your appetite will be gone.
Then you will go to the grave and people will go to your funeral.
Now the end of the matter is to Honor God and obey His commands for this is the whole duty of man.