When I was in college, I studied German under the aptly named Professor Daniel Deutschlander. Whenever something silly or strange happened in class, Prof. Deutschlander would tell us with a smirk, “I am going to include that in my autobiography, Spitting in the Wind.”
I often feel like that should be the title of my life’s story as well.
Sometimes I feel like I am just spitting in the wind. Sometimes I ask myself what good does any of this really do. As a pastor, I share with people what God wants them to do and then watch them do the exact opposite. I share with them the endless forgiveness Jesus won for them and then see them take that forgiveness for granted.
I look out and see our world spiraling deeper and deeper into depravity. I see myself falling into the same old stupid sins again and again. Life in this world so often feels empty and meaningless.
Have you ever felt that way? Have ever felt like what you do doesn’t really matter – like it doesn’t serve any real purpose? Do you ever find yourself just going through the motions of life?
Wise old King Solomon could relate. If you have a chance this week, read through the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.
Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes toward the end of a life lived extravagantly. God blessed Solomon with great wisdom and intelligence. He enjoyed wealth and fame beyond our wildest imaginations. He tasted just about every earthly pleasure, including having a harem of 700 wives and 300 concubines.
And what was Solomon’s conclusion after a life lived big? “Meaningless, meaningless!” he wrote. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Throughout Ecclesiastes, Solomon describes his great wisdom, wealth and the largess of his life. In the end it was all meaningless to him.
The Hebrew word we translate as “meaningless” literally means “breath.” It is something that is here today and gone tomorrow. The old King James Version of the Bible calls it “vanity.”
All of our great efforts, all our goals, all our hard work is meaningless. It doesn’t last. It is here today and gone tomorrow. It is vanity – a “chasing after the wind” – Solomon tells us.
It is like spitting into the wind.
Life under the sun, life lived in this world, is utterly meaningless . . . without God. At the end of his book, after teaching us the utter vanity of wealth and fame and life lived under the sun, wise old King Solomon encourages us to remember our Creator and to fear God.
That is the answer. That is where meaning is found – not under the sun, but beyond it. Life is meaningless without God. It is like spitting in the wind.
Life with God, however, has purpose and meaning. Knowing and trusting that Jesus came to save us from all our stupid sins, knowing that he will one day free us from this meaningless, fleeting and vain world, changes how we look at and live our lives.
Sure my life may seem at times monotonous. I may not see my efforts produce any fruit, but God promises that a life lived in service to him is never in vain. He has plans and purposes for us. He works through sinners like you and me to bring about his will for the world. He uses us and our lives to share his message of salvation with others.
You may not always be able to see it. You may not always understand God’s plans for you. You may feel like you are just spitting in the wind, but your life has purpose.
No life lived for God is ever meaningless.