My youngest daughter loves making bubbles. Not the blow-through-the-wand variety–those are too mainstream. She makes huge bubbles with her hands and some dish washing foam. She calls me over, “Quick! Look how big this one is!” It’s fun to see them expand, until POP– they are gone. Nothing left.
Vanity. Vapor. Really big for a moment and then gone. All form and no substance.
That’s what I was reminded of today in my reading of Ecclesiastes. And Hope’s bubbles remind me that our life cannot be lived for things that don’t last.
We all chase and blow bubbles that we believe will give us fulfillment. They’re oh so big and captivating at the moment.
The bubbles we chase vary: entertainment, experiences, prestige, acceptance, recognition, understanding, excess, power, success, control.
We carefully craft life to make it work according to our desires.
Some try to find fulfillment in ministry or social work.
Sometimes we work for the wrong reasons and to the detriment of those we love.
Some seek happiness by law keeping and others by law breaking.
Some seek elicit s*x, mind numbing drugs or anything else that will fill the void that is DISSATISFACTION.
It’s that aching sense that you’re missing out, that there’s got to be something more. It’s looking for wholeness in broken things that can only ever deliver brokenness and were never meant to hold any real place in our hearts.
As I look around at our culture, we’re seeking a personalized happiness and will do whatever it takes to get it. Nobody will stand in our way. We’re self sufficient people. My happiness trumps yours. Happiness and self are twin gods that we idolize, worship, and recklessly chase.
In this pursuit, we chase the “latest and greatest.” We are enthralled by electronic gadgets. We spend much of our discretionary money on the here and now as if the Kingdom of Heaven did not exist.
We spend hours scouring social media. We’re like the Athenians in Acts 17 who were always seeking some new teaching or philosophy and “would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.” Dissatisfied, distracted, and seeking the next new.
The Bible calls the pursuit of things that won’t last vanity.
And Ecclesiastes tells us why none of these fillers will satisfy:”He has put eternity into man’s heart…” (Eccl. 3:11)
Solomon was the wisest and richest King to ever live and he tried it all and wrote about it for our instruction in Ecclesiastes.
By his own words, he says that he tried pleasure, laughter, escapism, wine, women, work, making a name for himself by building the grandest of buildings and vineyards, entertainment, wealth, seeking power over people so much so that he had become “so great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem.” He “kept his heart from no pleasure.” And yet, he comes to the conclusion that life that is lived outside of the knowledge and enjoyment of Christ is worthless.
If you remember English Grammar in elementary school, you remember prepositions. They tell you where something is in relationship to something else.
Solomon tells us that there is something above man, this God of the Bible who controls all things. And that this knowledge of God and eternity is within the man. He also reminds us that death is ahead of each of us and that dying is one of the realities of living.
We were not made for the here and now, we were created as eternal souls and nothing on this earth will bring us fulfillment until we are fulfilled in Christ. It is madness to live as though this life is all there is.
As Christians, we know this, but do we live it?
How much time did we spend last week in our Bibles getting to know the only One who can bring us satisfaction?
Or how many times did we live like self was of supreme importance last week?
Seeking satisfaction in self-stuff or in Christ. Those are the options.
Obviously, selfishness is the antithesis of Christianity. We know this and we know better.
And yet, we continue to blow bubble for ourselves, then cry when they pop. We get mad when they disappear or irritated when people bump into our bubbles and pop them. We pout when people don’t appreciate our bubbles like we think they should. We get offended when our bubbles are not recognized or applauded, or become discouraged or discontent when others have more bubbles than we do.
We need to see through our bubbles for clarity. And we need to pop them if they are idols. See, bubbles can be good things that become bad things when we love them too much.
God does give us good things, but they were never meant to replace Him in our hearts.
God does lavish us with gifts, but we can not live for them and forget the Giver.
When we see through the gifts to the Giver, on the outside our life may not look like it has changed, but we have changed inside.
We find fulfillment in whatever work we do, whether private or public, whether praised or criticized. The work will no longer be about you. If the work is taken away or given to someone else, we won’t despair.
Our entertainment will no longer be about us, but about God’s will and ways even as we enjoy it. We’ll seek to build godly character in our entertainment and free time activities.
We’ll begin to live “mindful of God.”
We’ll work “as unto the Lord.”
We’ll serve “to the praise of His glorious grace.”
It’s amazing how perspective changes everything and informs and changes our motives.
It’s amazing how the bubbles that we once chased and demanded can pop into oblivion and we’re okay with that when our trust and hope are in the Lord. It’s exciting that the things that once allured us have no control over us any longer and we can just enjoy the creation BECAUSE of the Creator, reflecting back praise to Him who gives us all good gifts.