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Vanity of vanities: all is meaningless!

Have you ever had a moment when you feel that everything in your life is meaningless? That’s the feeling that we get when we read Ecclesiastes – the more you know, the more you question

What is the meaning of life?

Lectionary readings:

  • Ecclesiastes 1: 2, 12-14, 18-21
  • Colossians 3: 1-2, 8-10
  • Luke 12: 13-21

In our reading from Luke this morning, we see Jesus criticizing greed and reminding the crowd “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” His parable of the rich man, storing up his abundance of crops in bigger barns, ends with the following warning:

This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.

Luke 12:21

What stands out for me here is NOT that you cannot store up things for themselves, but rather that storing up to the exclusion of God is vanity. In Ecclesiastes we read:

… It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. … a striving after wind

Ecclesiastes 1: 13-14

You will need the material things of this world to fulfill your calling, but that is not what you are called to.

The materials things are merely tools to assist you in fulfilling your purpose. You may be blessed with them, so that your impact can be greater in the lives of others around you!  

Living with purpose

So, today, I want to address living with purpose – living a passionate, engaged, meaningful life. Many of us are motivated simply to fulfill our needs: Chasing after whatever will supply our weekly or monthly bills that need to be paid – food and clothing. 

We even chase after having our emotional needs met – family relationships, and even when we are more “educated” – career development. And with this type of motivation, we find ourselves always behind – always chasing.

Never quite there.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

If you don’t know God’s purpose for your life, you constantly feel a sense of aimlessness.

Like Ecclesiastes – all is meaningless. Like the children of Israel walking around in the desert aimlessly – having lost their purpose and their vision. Without a vision, the people perish! You feel as though you’re wandering from thing to thing without any forward progress. 

But the secret lies in finding first the kingdom of God.

What does this mean? It means that in your life – each and every day – you are living under the kingship of the Divine! You are practicing the presence of I AM in your life daily!

“Your kingdom come.
Your will be done.
On earth as it is in heaven”

Matthew 6:10

This is not simply platitudes. It is not saying – I obey the commandments.

Finding the kingdom of heaven is not simply obeying the law and living a religious life. It is reaching that place individually – personally – where you are in tune with listening to the still, small voice (within you) that chastens gently when you are just slightly out of line. When your ear is pulled because you are judging, rather than loving.

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“For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” 

Luke 17:21

You were given certain gifts and talents – a beingness that only you can fulfill. If you are trying to fulfill someone else’s purpose, rather than your own, you will feel that you are on the wrong path. Because it’s not your path.

You are simply trying to live up to another person’s opinion and expectations of what they “think” is your purpose.

Is that the kingdom of God within you – guiding you?

Not if you are simply following someone else’s direction, rather than listening for yourself!

Wear what fits you!

Consider, for a moment – the story of David & Goliath – before David goes out to fight Goliath, King Saul tries to get David to wear his armour. Because, everyone knows – if you are riding into battle, you need armour. And yet David was simply a shepherd boy – not even yet a man! Imagine Saul like Arnold Schwartznegger… and David like Elijah Woods… just to give you a little perspective.

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Does what you are wearing fit you well?

Saul’s armour was too heavy and too big for David – and rather than supporting him and helping him for the task before it, it simply weighted him down! And so David took it off – and went to face Goliath in his own, humble clothes.

Whose clothes are your wearing today in your life?

Are you living your purpose? Or someone else’s ideas of what your purpose should be?

Consider – what are your talents and gifts? Is what you are doing with your life showcasing what you do best? If you are a person that connects easily with others, but isn’t good at mathematics or analysis – are you connecting daily with people? Or are you stuck in analysis?

The talents you received are exclusive to you.

Feeling stuck in a rut

While it may feel very uncomfortable – much like Saul (when becoming Paul) was blinded by the light and left sightless for three days – are you feeling that you’ve lost your sight? That you can no longer see the way ahead of you? Sometimes, discomfort is exactly what we need – for us to wake up and pay attention.

There are moments when we will fill so uncomfortable until we step out to fulfill our purpose

This is the wrong path for me!
I am not living up to my potential and calling.

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If you are feeling trapped and dissatisfied – maybe have a look at whether or not you are actually following your calling. Are you stuck in a rut?

Or did you intentionally choose not to follow your calling and go with what others suggested was the right path for you?

If you, like Jonah, received a calling and then ran away from it!

This doesn’t have to be a calling to preach or be a missionary – it can simply be a calling in which you are using all of your gifts and talents, completely connected with the kingdom of God within you – where you are living in harmony with I AM.

Consider – what’s that one thing that I do better than others? When I was a child, and was in touch with all my talents – what was I really good at? How are you using those talents now?

Living with purpose is not just about you; it’s about what God wants to do through you!

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

James 4:17

Do you know with certainty what you are have been called to do? Are you living in that certainty?

If you are in the wrong place – life with get very uncomfortable. This is the meaninglessness that Ecclesiastes talks about – the toil under the sun that gets you nowhere.

You are called to renewal

The same way that Romans reminds us

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind

Romans 12:2

We are also told in our reading from Colossians:

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Colossians 3: 8-10

You are invited to put on a new self – renewed in knowledge – created after the image of your creator. That old self – the practices that you are putting away – the meaningless striving after money, for the sake of money and riches for the sake of riches.

We get stuck in meaninglessness – only when we are only toiling under the sun, with days full of sorrow – when we forget that we have the kingdom of God within us.

One of the hardest lessons that we learn, when we choose to follow the path fo the kingdom of Heaven is to trust. To have faith that following our purpose – the path that we are called to – will be a path that is truly blessed, in all ways!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Are you living in alignment with those plans – plans that give you a future and hope?

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