We all use these terms interchangeably: vain, futile, useless, empty. Whenever the pastor preaches from Ecclesiastes, he always finds a way to make a smart-alecky comment about me; like somehow he thinks I cannot hear him although there is a 50-inch video screen and surround sound in the nursery—just so I don’t miss anything. He calls me vain, just because I like to look nice with my teal lipstick; he calls my attempts at reforming the babies futile; he often refers to me as “useless”; and he criticizes the impact of my nursery ministry as being empty. So you can see one of the main reasons for my frustration—I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere or accomplishing anything worthwhile. When will I ever arrive?
Every day, I tell myself, “If I only had an assistant in the nursery, life would be better.” Then, whenever we hire one, it usually doesn’t work out. I don’t know what the problem is—but those kids who are fresh out of college with degrees in childcare can’t take my constant barrage of criticism. They need to grow up. So, needless to say, I have not yet arrived. Some days I think, “If I just had one more Golden Girls tape, I would be happy and could consider my life to be fulfilling.” But then, I wear out that VHS tape and get bored with the fact that I have watched each episode about 100 times.
At other times I think, “If I could only find a decent husband, then I would be happy.” Well, five tries later, I am still not happy. In each of these situations, I can honestly say, “I have not arrived.” Hmmm, I guess we were made for more than this world (this is the part where I would insert the hashtag #SeriousTweet if I was tweeting it). The fact of the matter is this: nothing in this world can satisfy us; except for one thing, of course: Jesus.
When we belong to Christ, we have peace in knowing that he is in control of our destiny. However, we don’t ever “arrive” on this earth because we were made for something more. We live in an environment where even Christians are constantly discontent. Our world thrives on success that ranges from corporate ladders, large homes, fancy cars, and power, just to name a few. Our idea of success is arriving at a place where we can say like the rich fool in the parable found in Luke 12:16-21, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry” (verse 19).
As we read the book of Ecclesiastes, we see that Solomon, who had it all, was like, “It’s all vanity; emptiness; futility!” As my pastor always says, “We won’t arrive until we reach heaven; until then, we are supposed to be serving the Lord.” Okay, so maybe my pastor doesn’t say that, but someone’s pastor, somewhere does—probably. It’s true though, society’s definition of success pales in comparison to what we have to look forward to as we gather around the throne of God and worship him in heaven. When we get to that beautiful place, then we can say we have arrived. But we probably won’t be thinking about it because our tiny little dreams won’t matter anymore. We will be in an environment that is all about the Savior!
Is there anything wrong with success? Of course not! But what we need to be careful of is funneling all of our energy into temporary things rather than eternal things. Colossians 3:2 tells us “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” So, does that mean that nothing on this earth matters? In the words of the amazing Balki Bartokomous, “Of course not, don’t be ridiculous!”
This is what we need to do: live on earth through the lens that we are on our way to heaven. When we have that mindset, we will have God’s idea of success in mind and will look forward to the day when we truly arrive—at home in the presence of Almighty God! There is much work left to do as we get closer to our eternal home. A lot of times we get discouraged because we haven’t arrived at our goals, but we must make sure that our goals are God-centered and not selfish. What are you living for?