July 22, 2015 Ponder
Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, had opportunities to experience every pleasure known to man at that time. His description of what he owned and enjoyed is nearly beyond our imagination. But his conclusion was that it did not offer ongoing satisfaction. He described it as meaningless.
Realizing that we live in a pleasure-driven culture, I have been thinking about what could be added to the list today that was not known nearly 3,000 years ago. The speed and convenience of travel and the ability to communicate add possibilities for pleasure not even dreamed of in those days. And today many people who have it all do not seem satisfied for very long.
During the year of our engagement to be married, Carol and I talked of finding a life verse that we could enjoy together. Each of us, without comparing our search, came up with the same verse: Psalm 16:11. “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” We had the reference engraved inside our wedding bands.
The verse outlines a sure formula for living. When we are on God’s path for our life, enjoying His Presence and experiencing His pleasures today as well as anticipating them forever, we are set for a life of satisfaction. I have pondered what part of this experience Solomon was missing that caused him to conclude that life is meaningless.
Solomon started his journey as king with a heart tuned toward God, but as time went by, he apparently was distracted by the influence of people who did not share that commitment. Eventually, he made decisions that directly violated the commands of Creator God. We could say that Solomon did not follow God’s path of life but rather his own.
When we step off of God’s path to follow our own, we also step away from God’s personal Presence. And since there is true joy only in God’s Presence, Solomon lost the benefit of that relationship. The more he tried to find joy in his life, the less he actually experienced it. One cannot experience the fullness of joy in God’s Presence when we insist on living away from Him and His influence.
The pleasures of life are wonderful gifts from Creator God to be enjoyed and appreciated, but when they become more important to us than trust and obedience, they draw us away from God and eventually lose their intended enjoyment. A life of pleasure by God’s definition does not need to include a lot of stuff, but it does require a committed and consistent relationship with Him.
Pastor Bill Ehmann