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Ecclesiastes 11
 


Ecc 11:1-2 . . Send your bread forth upon the waters; for after many days you will find it. Distribute portions to seven or even to eight, for you cannot know what misfortune may occur on earth.

In Solomon's opinion; a well-rounded person is charitable. Altruism is one of those characteristics that should be included in everyone's social résumé; and makes us a better person for it. Nowadays, college aspirants have to put in some time benefiting their communities in some way because it looks good on a college application.

They say charity begins at home. From there, it moves on out into the neighborhood, and ultimately into the world: foreign aid for example. Some people object to foreign aid because it drains American resources badly needed on the home front. But drain or not, it's a good policy. Not only is it humanitarian, and therefore morally right; but you just never know when America herself will be down and out and the very people who were down on their luck that we assisted with weapons, food, technology, and medicine, might one day reciprocate and help us out in some way.

"I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." (Luke 16:9)

America is sometimes accused of buying friends with foreign aid, and no doubt some of that is true. But not always. And even if it were 100% true; so what? You don't need to love people to be charitable. It makes good sense to build yourself a base of good will just in case you need a favor some day. People you have helped are more inclined to help you back than those you ignored; and in this big bad world, you need all the friends you can get.

Ecc 11:3-6 . . If the clouds are filled, they will pour down rain on the earth; and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, the tree will stay where it falls. If one watches the wind, he will never sow; and if one observes the clouds, he will never reap.

. . . Just as you do not know how the life-breath passes into the limbs within the womb of the pregnant woman, so you cannot foresee the actions of God, who causes all things to happen. Sow your seed in the morning, and don’t hold back your hand in the evening, since you don’t know which is going to succeed, the one or the other, or if both are equally good.

Just about any mention of a "God" in the book of Ecclesiastes is superficial rhetoric, and has nothing to do with genuine faith.

What Solomon is saying is: If people waited until all the conditions were just right, life would pass them by. In other words: Life is a risk. Take it.

Ecc 11:7-8 . . How sweet is the light, what a delight for the eyes to behold the sun! Even if a man lives many years, let him enjoy himself in all of them, remembering how many the days of darkness are going to be. The only future is nothingness!

We know from the revealed portions of scripture that the future is definitely not darkness and nothingness. But from the point of view of the man under the sun, one's existence on earth is relatively brief in comparison to one's non-existence in the grave. Philosophically then, it's stupid to deny one's self the pleasures this life has to offer when death is so inevitable.

In the movie Moonstruck; Olympia Dukakis' character asks Danny Aiello's character why men chase women. He suggested that men chase women because they fear death. Well, if not the moment of death, then surely they fear the aging process that gets men to the moment of death; which is the root cause of the so-called middle-age crisis. The aging process then, is a sort of world-wide pandemic for which there is no known cure; and the condition thus far has always been terminal.

Ecc 11:9-10 . . O youth, enjoy yourself while you are young! Let your heart lead you to enjoyment in the days of your youth. Follow the desires of your heart and the glances of your eyes— but know well that God will call you to account for all such things— and banish care from your mind, and pluck sorrow out of your flesh! For youth and dark hair are fleeting.

I let my past go too fast
No time to pause
If I could slow it all down
Like some captain, whose ship runs aground
I can wait until the tide comes around
(RUSH: Time Stand Still, 1987)

Life can't be put on hold, nor can one pause and savor the moment because moments are momentary. The instant moments happen, they become fixed in the frozen sea of the past. People who think to "save" themselves for marriage for example, can do no such thing. One cannot "save" life as if it were possible to put life in storage. No, life goes on. When people try to "save" themselves for later; they only end up letting themselves go to waste because youth isn't static; no, youth is trailing off behind you at warp speed; ergo : the time to live life is while you have it; not wait to live it later after you've gone to seed.

Young people should enjoy a young person's life to the fullest while they have the chance; but of course not to excess because any reasonable sense of justice expects a day when a supreme being will call everyone into account. But nevertheless; there is a lot to life that can be fully enjoyed only while we are young. Age takes the pleasure out of many things in life that were once fresh and exciting.

Take Disneyland in Los Angeles for example. Walt's park was built in the 1950's, completed just three years before I became a teen-ager. Oh; how I yearned to go there and ride the Jungle Cruise, a boat ride on the rivers of the world— and we lived in San Diego, only a measly ninety miles from Anaheim. Well, my mom and dad never did take us; and I didn't go on my own until I got out of the Army. I went; but it was more of a curiosity than a pleasure. You know why? Because I wasn't a kid anymore. So don't let youth slip through your fingers. Don't put off kid things till you are older; because when you are older, they won't be near as much fun nor will they be nearly as interesting either.

There was a time when I had 20-20 vision and could gaze at the stars with my naked eyes and see them all crisp and sharp, even the really tiny ones. Then one day I started noticing birds with four wings. Astigmatism had crept up on me and there was nothing I could do about it except start wearing glasses. In later years, I started developing cataracts; which make it really hard to drive at night because the headlights of oncoming cars are like looking at flares through an oily window and make it really hard for me to see the white lines.

Romance especially is dulled by age. When you're young, love and romance take your breath away, you can't sleep for the excitement of it all, and all you can think of is being with your lover. Well, when you get older, it's not like that. And I don't mean real old either. People in only their mid thirties and forties no longer feel the same rush any more.

As a case in point, I dated a little in high school. Afterwards, during three years of active duty in the Army I avoided girls and did no dating at all. After discharge, I dated a girl when I was 21 and then completely lost interest in dating till I was 32. But guess what? That decade of celibacy rendered me almost completely frigid. I could feel very little chemistry with girls; they were simply people of a different gender. The only reason I married at all is because of the aging process. One day while shaving, as I looked in the mirror I noticed my face beginning to sag and my hair thinning and receding. It was a wake-up call. I realized the time of life for starting a family was rapidly slipping away where before I gave it no thought at all.

Life is one of those things that you cannot go back and do over. You're only young once; and you feel the feelings of the young only once too; and that's for a relatively brief time compared to the remainder of your life.

I was once asked, in the 6th grade, by a sadistic male school principal who caught me acting silly in the cafeteria: "Aren't you ever going to grow up?" I answered; "I don't want to grow up." He was immediately indignant, and demanded to know why. I replied; "Because grown-ups are unhappy." He was annoyed by my answer; but no doubt knew in his heart I was right. I never saw that man happy. He was always irritable and upset at the students for one thing or another and everyone feared him. You know, looking back, I don't think that man was even 35 yet; and just look how much of the exuberance of youth he had already lost even by the time of that relatively early age.

 

 

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