12 Things I have lived long enough to know
The repetitive nature of the daily news is an indication of how old a person is getting and hopefully an impetus to garner some wisdom from it all. Recently I realized I’ve been ingesting a regurgitation of the same sound bites for over 50 years. How could it be that I’ve spent my entire life monitoring global hotspots in Africa and the Middle East, sword rattling over oil supplies and nuclear weapons, uncertain market forecasts, political campaign mudslinging, dastardly mind-boggling crimes and the latest woes of local sports teams?
I couldn’t help but think of the writer of Ecclesiastes, who looking back over his long life threw his hands up in frustration and said “Meaningless, meaningless . . . Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (1:2) Then he asks the question of the ages: “What does a man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?” (1:3) This question essentially frames the answers he paints on the canvas of the rest of the book
I’ve taken some of those brush strokes of wisdom from Ecclesiastes to embellish a sampling of what I’ve learned from my many years of making meaning of the repetitious nature of life.
I am calling them twelve things I have lived long enough to know. I’ve lived long enough to know . . .
1. Increasing the number of channels will never solve the problem of why there isn’t anything worth watching on TV. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. (1:8)*
2. Living through a Southeast Asian war, a cold war and several Gulf wars has convinced me there will always be oppressors and attempts to dethrone them. History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. (1:9 NLT) Jesus: You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. (Matthew 24:6)
3. Doing what you love to do is the most rewarding employment there is. So I saw that there is nothing better for people than to be happy in their work. That is why we are here. (3:22 NLT)
4. Carving out times of solitude to be alone with God is absolutely essential for mental health and survival. One handful of peace and quiet is better than two handfuls of hard work and of trying to catch the wind. (4:6 Gods Word Translation)
5. What you promise in a time of peace is sure to be demanded of you in a time of war. So be careful what you promise. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the [temple] messenger, “My vow was a mistake.” (5:5-6) No one is discharged in time of war. (8:8)
6. It is a better use of time to focus on the present and shape the future than reminisce about the past. The olden days were not necessarily the golden days. Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions. (7:10)
7. Everyone has their faults and has said or done things they regret, and so have I. It makes no sense therefore to become a judge. There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins. Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others. (7:20-22)
8. Ignoring a problem by not addressing it or not nipping it in the bud will only allow it to spread and become worse. Deal with it now. When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong. (8:11)
9. It is not worth putting too much emotional energy and hope in Minnesota sports teams or any athletic quest for that matter. “The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong . . . but time and chance happen to them all.” (9:11)
10. Bad deeds are more memorable than good and sadly a lifetime of achievement can be destroyed by one foolish act. So guard your heart and walk circumspectly. As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor. (10:1 NLT)
11. Idleness is the devil’s workshop and it is how you begin and end your day that will most likely determine your destiny. Sow your seed in the morning and at evening let not your hands be idle. (11:6)
12. Our ultimate purpose in life is to have a vital relationship with God and seek to live in His presence daily. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (12:13)
*All quotes are from Ecclesiastes, the New International Version, unless otherwise noted.
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