What would you do if someone held you at gunpoint? Would you run, or would you try to fight? That was the topic of a conversation with friends a few days ago. Best answer I could give is a general “it depends”. Is the gunner after something? Am I in a location where there’s a place to hide, or is it an open field? Am I with other people? One of my friends shared that he and his girlfriend already agreed on what they’d do if the situation does happen. That’s good planning. You’ll never know when something like that would happen, and if you’re not prepared it might already be too late.
Personally, I have a hard time preparing for death. Whether it’s planning for what to do in a life-and-death situation, or something less tragic like buying insurance. It seems like a pointless activity, a futile effort. Some activities extend your life for just about one moment more. Some are plans for future setups that extend beyond my lifetime, a future as unsure as the future where I do exist, like tomorrow. Plans we make collapse as we execute them. What reason is there for us to expect that our plans beyond our lifetime will fare any better?
Would you believe that there’s a whole book in the Bible sharing these same concerns? Our Pastor, Pastor Noel Espinosa, began a series on the book of Ecclesiastes years ago, and the message still resonates with me.
I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity.
– Ecclesiastes 2:18-19
Vanity is the common theme in the book. At first look it seems that the writer’s repeated refrain is that of the meaninglessness of his work, his achievements, his pleasures, or his knowledge. But as Pastor introduces the series, he shows how the Hebrew word hebel actually means breath, vapor, and is the key to understanding this book. Our lives are brief, like vapors that pass by and are no more when faced with death. Why worry, and plan so that I can extend whatever joyous moments can be hand in this all too brief life? Pastor summarizes it in one of his points:
The reality of death makes any happiness all too brief, and without God, a mere illusion
The writer, thankfully, does not leave his readers to their despair as it seems he has. The book points us to the reality where life is not mere illusion, but that we exist for Him who created us, our God. The Lord will work continue to work in our lives for His glory. What we do matters. Preparing for our eventual departure may still not yield what we expect, but as Christians we know that whatever happens it will be for the good of those who love Him. The future that extends beyond our lifetime will be governed by the same unchanging God, as will the moments that will lead up to it.